This project explores divergent narratives of slavery at the Mount Vernon plantation in Virginia. Employees construct the dominant history from “hard” evidence. However, descendants of people enslaved at Mount Vernon tell alternate oral narratives that complicate the dominant story. First, I recount seven descendant ancestry narratives. Next, I analyze the West Ford debate, when Ford descendants and staff contested an enslaved Ford ancestor’s paternity. Lastly, I deconstruct the politics over building a monument in the slave burial ground. The common thread is that Mount Vernon embodies a struggle between an institution and descendants over how to remember a fragmented past.



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