Virginia Humanities announced today that the film, Mapping Virginia’s Slave Dwellings, has been awarded a National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter Emmy Award in the category “Historical / Cultural: Program Feature.” The six-minute film, released by Google Earth Outreach in June 2019, documents efforts by Virginia Humanities and Saving Slave Houses to preserve the history of Virginia’s slave dwellings using Google Street View technology.
Nineteen slave dwellings across the state have been documented and are available as virtual tours through Google Maps and in Virginia Humanities’ Encyclopedia Virginia at EncyclopediaVirginia.org/vr. The virtual tours make the dwellings, most of which are on private property, accessible to the public.
Peter Hedlund, Director of Encyclopedia Virginia, says these virtual tours give viewers a more complete version of Virginia’s history. “Rarely are the buildings that once housed enslaved Virginians focal points of historic sites. Instead, visitors are led to the big stately homes of those who were the enslavers. By featuring these sites, we are helping to emphasize the foundational role of the enslaved in the history of Virginia.”
The video shows the documentation of Ampthill Plantation, in Cumberland County, where Justin Reid’s family was enslaved. Reid, who directs Community Initiatives at Virginia Humanities, says physical structures play an important role in remembering our past. “Our understanding of ourselves and our history is continuously shaped, usually unconsciously, by our built environment, which is why it’s so important for these places to tell honest and inclusive stories. Having truthful, tangible reminders of our past, especially the wide-ranging experiences of those who’ve been most marginalized, can help us build a more just society today.”