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Archaeology and Public Memory at the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site

Author(s): Matthew R. Laird

Year: 2016

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The discovery and excavation of the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site (44HE1053) in Richmond, Virginia, between 2006 and 2009 garnered more media and public attention than any other archaeological project in the city’s history.   Spearheaded by the Richmond City Council’s Slave Trail Commission, the investigations revealed the remarkably well-preserved remains of the slave-trading complex operated by Robert Lumpkin from the 1840s through the fall of Richmond in 1865, and which later served as the site of the Colver Institute, the forerunner of today’s historically black Virginia Union University.  Clearly, the popular understanding of this place transcends the scholarly analysis of a specific cultural landscape of urban captivity.  And the site—with its complex historical legacy—continues to be a touchstone in the impassioned debate over the role of race, public memory, and preservation in the contested Shockoe Bottom neighborhood, the notorious former slave-trading district lately targeted for redevelopment.

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Cite this Record

Archaeology and Public Memory at the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site. Matthew R. Laird. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434395)


Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 686

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America