Home Virginia and the American slave trade traveling exhibition opens at Belle Grove Plantation

Virginia and the American slave trade traveling exhibition opens at Belle Grove Plantation


newspaperBelle Grove Plantation will host the traveling exhibition To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade from Wednesday, July 27 through Sunday, September 25. This exhibit was created by the Library of Virginia with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Belle Grove has made a commitment to research and present the history of the 276 enslaved that lived and worked on the plantation.  To Be Sold will help our visitors put the events that took place at Belle Grove in a Virginian and national context,” said Kristen Laise, Executive Director at Belle Grove.

The exhibit offers a frank exploration of Virginia’s role in the business of the second middle passage—the forced relocation of two-thirds of a million African Americans from the Upper South to the Cotton South in the decades before the Civil War. The story of the American slave trade is one of numbers, but it is also the story of individuals whose families were torn apart and whose lives were forever altered.  One such story occurred at Belle Grove.  In researching slavery at Belle Grove Plantation, 1824 advertisement placed by Major Isaac Hite, Jr. was found. It advertised a public auction to include horses, cattle, farm implements and “sixty slaves of various ages, in families.” Belle Grove staff and volunteers are searching for information on this sale and what might have happened to the individuals sold.

Through illustrations of paintings, insurance policies, bills of sale, broadsides, and other items drawn largely from the Library of Virginia’s extensive collections, To Be Sold traces what these documents reveal about the slave trade from the time a slaveholder decided to sell a slave through the Richmond market to the moment when the enslaved person was sent south. Three interactive kiosks explore artist Eyre Crowe’s paintings that recorded Virginia’s infamous trade, trace Crowe’s excursion into Richmond’s slave-trading district, and offer interviews with formerly enslaved people.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Ranger Shannon Moeck will lead a 30-minute program, Kneading in Silence: A Glimpse Into The Life of

Judah the Enslaved Cook in the Belle Grove Winter Kitchen. Purchased by the Hites in 1794, Judah remained their cook until her death in 1836. This program will be presented at 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20, September 3, September 10,September 17, and September 24. The program is free of charge.

To Be Sold will be on view on the lower level of the Belle Grove Manor House along with an exhibit about slavery on the Plantation. It will be available free of charge during Belle Grove’s regular hours, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m. While the lower level exhibits may be viewed free of charge, tours of the Manor House are conducted at :15 past each hour and an admission fee applies ($12 for adults, $11 for seniors, AAA, military and those with a National Park Service pass, and $6 for those 6-16 and members of the National Trust for Historic Preservation).

Four special events will take place at Belle Grove when To Be Sold is on exhibit:

  • Saturday, August 27, Wine Fest, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. featuring wine tasting, chef demos, house tours, live music, and vendors. $10 general admission, $20 for admission plus wine tastings in advance, and $25 at the gate.
  • Sunday, September 18, 3-4:30 p.m. is Belle Grove’s Annual Meeting. A brief membership meeting will be followed by a lecture “ ‘You will see the down-trodden race rise up’; Exploring the Stories of Enslavement in the Shenandoah Valley” by Ann Denkler, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History at Shenandoah University. The event is free and open to the public.
  • Saturday, September 24 as part of Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live, Belle Grove will be free to the public from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 25, 4 – 6 p.m. Belle Grove-Behind-the-Scenes, a family friendly “all access pass” to see buildings and spots at Belle Grove, which are not regularly open to the public. Tickets are $20 per person, $10 for students (13-17), Seniors (65+) and children 12 and under free.

For more information, visit www.bellegrove.org or www.facebook.com/BelleGrove.



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