Saving Slave Houses
The Saving Slave Houses project aims to capitalize on growing awareness of failing in public consciousness of enslavement in America and promote the preservation of the physical remains of this history- slave houses. This project was created by Jobie Hill, a preservation architect with a graduate degree in historic preservation and a focus on domestic slave housing. Some of her work also includes digital reconstructions of enslaved housing, consultations on how to preserve existing structures and community outreach. Her perspective comes from experience both with the material remains as well as the historical record. This site includes photographs of the modern remains of slave houses (including before and after pictures of preservation), as well as videos of speeches by experts on the subject of preservation, and of enslavement more generally. The site also includes a section on slave narratives, which offer a more detailed and personal perspective into how enslaved people were living.
Although the website does not have it’s own teaching modules, an interesting activity to do with students might be to go to the original location of photographs of slave houses in things like the Historic American Buildings Survey and find the other forms of documentation. The goal would be to answer questions like “What houses/areas received documentation and which did not?”, “What types of documentation did these houses receive?”, and “What language did they use when describing these houses?” Unfortunately, the database of enslaved housing that is mentioned on the site (and which would also make an activity like this much more centralized) is not currently available online, pending funding, but when it is up will be a great resource for people unable to view these architectural remains in person. The site is still in progress, as is the research being done, but in my opinion, this makes the website all the more valuable for documenting the journey to preservation.
Overall this site is an excellent example of an in-process research effort that intersects with academic works as well as community outreach. The author does an excellent job in dividing what areas of focus there are, such as preservation and documentation, to show the relevance and impact of work that deals with the history of enslavement.