New UVA College Tour for First-Generation Students a Huge Success

Posted: May 31, 2019, 12:00am


University of Virginia President Jim Ryan has said one of his missions is that UVA “opens wide the door to opportunity for first-generation, low and middle-income students.” A group of students embraced that spirit even before Ryan joined the University last year and this past semester, opened their arms to local first-generation students with a day of programing tailor-made for them by current first-gen students at UVA. “Rise Together,” a UVA-founded nonprofit group-mentoring program that pairs UVA students with first-gen students at local schools, brought a group of students from Monticello High School to UVA this spring for a day-long tour given from the perspective of first-gen students who are also University Guides – students who give tours of Grounds to the public. (READ MORE)

Source: UVA Today (Jane Kelly)

Student Researchers to Explore Black Experience, Gardens in the Academical Village

Posted: May 30, 2019, 12:50pm


A graduate student and an undergrad will conduct research in the University of Virginia’s historic Academical Village this summer, exploring the Lawn experience for black students and the history of the pavilion gardens. Christian P.L. West, a doctoral student in UVA’s Curry School of Education and Human Development, and Sophia McCrimmon, a rising third-year student double-majoring in American studies and history with a minor in historic preservation, will receive research funds from the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund of the Academical Village, which awards grants supporting students who conduct summer research projects that increase public understanding of the University’s original, Thomas Jefferson-designed precinct. (READ MORE)

Source: UVA Today (Matt Kelly)

Black Alumni Weekend Panel Highlights Memorial Design

Posted: May 30, 2019, 10:22am


As part of the University's biennial Black Alumni Weekend held April 5-7, 2019, the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers Community Engagement Committee hosted a panel discussion and construction site tour for participating alumni. The panel included Jessica Harris (UVA Undergraduate Student, College '19, Curry '20), Devon Henry (CEO and President of Team Henry Enterprises LLC), Mary Hughes (University Landscape Architect), and Eto Otitigbe (Memorial to Enslaved Laborers Design Team). Marcus Martin, Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, welcomed the group and John Macfarlane, who chairs the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers Campaign and is a former member of the University's Board of Visitors, provided opening remarks. Many members of the audience braved the cold, rainy weather to tour the Memorial construction site after the panel concluded. See photos below.

(All photos by Sanjay Suchak)


Four panelists sit at a table in the Rotunda Dome Room.


A group of people holding umbrellas stand on the construction site.


A woman reaches out to touch a mock-up of the carved stone of the Memorial.

Design Strategy: Carving Their Names

Posted: May 29, 2019, 12:45pm


The Memorial to Enslaved Laborers will honor the lives of the enslaved by displaying their names on the inner wall. The MEL design team has worked closely for several months with a “names commission” of faculty and staff to find as many names as possible of the estimated 4,000 people of the enslaved community. This commission poured over ledgers and letters to piece together knowledge about the enslaved women, men, and children who built and lived at the University. The memorial will feature the approximately five hundred known names of the members of the enslaved community, carved into the granite. In the case of those for whom the commission found a reference but no name, the memorial will remember them by an occupation such as brickmason, painter, laundress, or cook, or by a kinship relation such mother, son, grandfather, or cousin.


Each individual, including the remaining 3,112 people whose name we do not know, will be remembered through a “memory mark.” Each “memory mark” makes the statement: “I was here,” and collectively proclaims: “We were here.” To be absent in the archival record and erased from history is one facet of the violence enacted in enslaving another human being. The accumulation of “memory marks” on the memorial is a way of representing this complex history, including the silences in the archive, across the surface of the memorial. The shape marks the labor of those who made the University. Its linear trace evokes the chisel markings of the stonemason, the furrow of the gardener, or the stitch of the seamstress. Each “memory mark” will offer visitors a tactile way to connect with those whose names have been deliberately forgotten. The markings draw attention to the collective effort necessary to repair a difficult past.

- Mabel O. Wilson, Memorial to Enslaved Laborers Design Team


Three people look down at a piece of carved granite stone.

Above: Devon Henry of Team Henry Enterprises inspects a slab of granite with carved names that will be used for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers.

Below: Another view of one of the granite slabs being prepared by Quarra Stone Company for the Memorial.


A man stands behind a slab of granite.

Exhibition to Highlight Artifacts from Foster Site

Posted: May 29, 2019, 12:32pm


Following a Spring 2019 student anthropology class project, this summer we are excited to launch a small exhibition highlighting artifacts from archaeological excavations of Kitty Foster’s home site adjacent to campus. Sponsored by the University of Virginia’s Bicentennial Commission, this effort has increased our knowledge of the University’s relationship with the local African American community in the nineteenth century and allowed us to responsibly catalog and store important these historical artifacts for future researchers.
The Foster Site Collection relates to archaeological materials discovered and safeguarded during various construction projects on Venable Lane in the 1990s and early 2000s. The collection is named in recognition of Catherine ("Kitty") Foster and the members of her family who lived and worked in "Canada," a historically African American site just south of the University’s historic boundaries.
The exhibit will feature objects that reflect daily life in Canada, including children’s toys, buttons and sewing equipment, architectural fragments from Kitty Foster’s home, and evidence of the family’s connection to the local community, the regional area and nineteenth century burgeoning national trade. Taken together with the history of the area, these artifacts shed light on the humanity of the site’s residents. Generations of free black women and children lived and worked in those spaces, supporting the University community and nurturing their own careers and domestic spaces.

Below: Marbles and shoe fragments were among the items uncovered during archaeological investigations on the Catherine Foster home site. Undergraduate students participated in a semester-long course to catalog and responsibly store these historical artifacts.

Nine marbles excavated from the Catherine Foster home site.

shoe fragments found on the Catherine Foster site.

A student holds a bag of artifacts over a cardboard box.