The Slave Dwelling Project



Developing Resources to Preserve African American Slave Dwellings

Now that I have the attention of the public by sleeping in extant slave dwellings, it is time to wake up and deliver the message that the people who lived in these structures were not a footnote in American history.

– Joseph McGill, Founder of the Slave Dwelling Project


2016 Conference

2018 Conference

The Fifth Annual Slave Dwelling Project Conference will be held at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Goodwill Plantation Living History

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Slave Dwelling Project Overnight Stays

2018 Schedule

The Slave Dwelling Project is proud to present its 2018 schedule which adds the state of Florida to its portfolio of sleepover sites.  The schedule for sleeping in extant slave dwellings includes the northern states of Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania.

This overnight stay highlighted for me in a personal and physical way what the lives of enslaved people might have been like. It made me much more thoughtful about the harsh contrast between the lives of free, privileged, European American slave owners, like my own ancestors, and the lives of the enslaved and intentionally deprived African American people.

– Prinny Anderson, Coming to the Table


Latest Stays

Recent Overnight Stays and Public Programs

Pamplin Park

Sometimes some things take persistence. About two years ago, I got an email from Tim Talbott, Director of Education, Interpretation, Visitor Services & Collections at Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. Tim was interested in the...

Slavery and Institutions of Higher Learning: Roanoke College

My host on this journey, labeled me a public historian, so I had to seek the meaning of that term. “Although public historians can sometimes be teachers, public history is usually defined as history beyond the walls of the traditional classroom.” As defined, I will...

Booker Taliaferro Washington

Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Mr. Washington is best known for his involvement in creating Tuskegee University. So, what does Booker T. Washington have to do with the Slave...

A Conference Between Sleepovers

After the Third Annual Slave Dwelling Project Conference which was held in Columbia, South Carolina in September 2016, I felt that we had reached a saturation point. In those past three years, we had never exceeded 150 in attendance at any of the conferences. Board...

Dorchester County, Maryland

Sometimes people contact the Slave Dwelling Project seeking assistance on how to restore their slave dwelling(s). These inquiries usually come from private owners who have the desire but not the means to restore these historic places. Demolition by neglect is the...

More Talk, Less Sleep

As the Slave Dwelling Project continues to evolve, sleeping in slave dwellings is becoming less significant for me. It is not because I’m bored after seven years of spending nights in places where the enslaved Ancestors once inhabited. Sleep is now occupying less time...

James K. Polk

I prefer that every slave dwelling ever built was still on the American landscape to remind of the enslaved Ancestors, but that is not the case because we have been a nation that would rather forget about those parts of history that make us uncomfortable. Some slave...


In 2010, when I first started sleeping in extant slave dwellings, I had some strict rules. I vowed that I would not sleep in recreated slave dwellings or relocated slave dwellings or in places where slave dwellings were once located but no longer exist. Seven years...

Beyond the Big House

“Who thinks it would be cool to go on a tour of Charleston kitchen houses? I do!!! Who wants to arrange it? :).” When English Purcell posted these words on Facebook, it was on. It was like she threw down the gauntlet. Up until her posting about Charleston kitchen...

Sleeping in Slave Dwellings: At First They Thought I’d Lost My Mind

Sleeping in Slave Dwellings: At First They Thought I’d Lost My Mind Interview with Terry James by Prinny Anderson, May 2017 Terry James is a member of the Slave Dwelling Project’s Board of Directors, a fellow USCT Massachusetts 54th re-enactor with Joe McGill, and a...

“Who Speak Fuh’ We? WE Speak Fuh’ WE!” The work of The Slave Dwelling Project, Inc. is profound. The dwellings that we have to save remind me of a South African word, “Azuka”, meaning “help is imperative”. I am honored to be a member of the Project. We will raise the bar on cultural heritage preservation throughout the United States and abroad. I encourage folks to come on board, “Jine WE.”

– Patt Gunn, Geechee Girl Productions


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I can say that the experience has made me a better person. It’s taught me humility for those who lived daily in the conditions I experienced for only 12 hours. It’s shown me an importance in knowing and attempting to learn about your history. Most of all, it has proven that history is real.

Justin Castor, Student

I was thankful for the act of remembrance and the ability to do so in a cultural way; in ways that my ancestors would have been punished for on many plantations. It was there in the sanctuary that I gave thanks of knowing and living the words of the ancestors … “Lest we forget.” My chant to them on the altar was, “You are not forgotten. We remember you with praise and honor.”

Toni Renee Battle

All I can say about Joe’s stay and “By the Sweat of Our Brows” is: if you didn’t make it, I’m sorry you missed it. You had to have been there to experience the power.

Dontavius Williams, Historical Interpreter, Historic Brattonsville

Slave Dwellings, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston, SC

The Slave Dwelling Project

Developing Resources To Preserve African American Slave Dwellings

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