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In 1998, DNA testing corroborated what family histories and the archival record had shown all along. Thomas Jefferson fathered children by Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman on the Monticello plantation. This connection was denied by naysayers for centuries but is widely acknowledged today. An accurate account of the Hemingses is now shared at Monticello, thanks to ongoing initiatives such as the Getting Word oral history project and the new Sally Hemings exhibit that debuted this past spring. In this talk, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed will examine the fascinating history of this American family and reflect on its implications for genealogical inquiry, scholarly method, and public history.
Annette Gordon-Reed is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School and Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. From “American controversy” to “American family,” Gordon-Reed’s scholarship continues to transform our understanding of the past and shape our conversations in the present.
This event is part of the African American Intellectual Culture Series and is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities; the Office of the Provost; the Department of History; and the Center for Gender, Race and Area Studies at Clark University.