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From Africa to Virginia

Jamestown Settlement Gallery Exhibits
Copper alloy plaque, Kingdom of Benin, ca. 1600. Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection. Gift of the Gladys and Franklin Clark Foundation.

Copper alloy plaque, Kingdom of Benin, ca. 1600. Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection. Gift of the Gladys and Franklin Clark Foundation.

Permanent gallery exhibits at Jamestown Settlement highlight the culture of the first recorded Africans in Virginia and the experience of people of African descent in colonial America.

Jamestown Settlement Galleries

The “From Africa to Virginia” theme is reflected in a printed family guide of Jamestown Settlement’s expansive gallery exhibits, which chronicle the nation’s 17th-century beginnings in Virginia in the context of its Powhatan Indian, English and African cultures. The parent culture of Africans brought to Virginia in 1619 is portrayed in a diorama that includes a full-scale dwelling and artifacts from the Ambundu culture of Angola. A dramatic multimedia presentation describes African encounters with Europeans, the impact on African culture, and the development of the transatlantic slave trade.

Other exhibits tell about Virginia’s tobacco-cultivation economy and its relationship to the evolution of slavery in the colony. A structure re-created from an archaeological site depicts a late-17th-century slave quarter alongside a planter’s house and Indian cabin, also based on Virginia archaeological sites. Decorative objects of ivory and metal made by west-central- African craftspeople, and archaeologically found objects made or used by enslaved people in Virginia can be seen in the gallery exhibits.

Jamestown Settlement gallery African exhibit themes are reflected in two special tours available to groups with advance reservations.


Educational Resources

Image Gallery – West Central Africans

Video Resources

Discovering Jamestown: The West Central Africans

Background Historical Essays

The Angolan Connection and Slavery in Virginia

The Evolution of the Slave Quarter in Tidewater Virginia

Antislavery Sentiment in Pre-Revolutionary Virginia

African Americans and the American Revolution