Loudoun’s Black History: Telling The Stories


There are several Loudoun organizations that specialize in documenting and sharing the history of Loudoun’s black community.

The Loudoun Frederick Douglass Alumni Association conducts programs on Segregation and the Civil Rights era. The Carver Alumni Association focuses on Purcellville’s black history, while the Waterford Foundation has educated thousands of Loudoun children in experiencing a day in the life of a black child at the Second Street School. The project, that is based on research into the 1880 U.S. Census, was an outgrowth of the village’s Quaker history, according to Waterford historian and Black History Committee member Bronwen Souders. The ratio of free blacks to slaves was five to one in Waterford, in sharp contract to one free to five slaves in the rest of the county.

Another site with a direct connection to black communities is Oatlands Historic House and Gardens. Oatlands has intensified its research and presentations on slaves working on the plantation and telling their stories.

Director of Education and Programming Lori Kimball researched census numbers, Oatlands builder George Carter’s will, his wife Elizabeth Carter’s diary and other documents. The database produced last year has 800 references to 133 slaves at the couple’s two plantations, most of them at Oatlands.

Some descendants contact Kimball directly after seeing the database—leading in turn to more stories.

—Margaret Morton


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