Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Slavery museum historic artifact lists
When the U.S. National Slavery Museum was in its early years, raising money and preparing to build a physical museum in Fredericksburg, it collected a number of artifacts. Those include books, historic documents, and items ranging from slave shackles, to minstrel music, to African maps and clothing, to Aunt Jemima salt shakers.
The museum filed for bankruptcy last year, and among the documents are lists of artifacts purchased or received by donation by the museum.
You can read those lists online at the following links:
As the museum stalled in recent years, the whereabouts of those artifacts were something of a mystery. Several people who donated items — including Suffolk resident Therbia Parker Sr., who provided slavery artifacts that he estimated were worth about $75,000 — have questioned what has happened to the artifacts. If the museum doesn’t come into being, the terms of Parker’s gift state that the artifacts go back to him. Parker has said his efforts to talk to Wilder about his artifacts have met with little response.
But a court document filed by Hilldrup Cos. a few weeks ago suggested some of the items, at least, were stored at Hilldrup’s facilities in Stafford, and while some appear to still be there, others were moved in January to the L. Douglas Wilder Library. While Hilldrup’s document didn’t say where that is, there is a library by that name at Virginia Union University in Richmond.