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For many descendants of enslaved Africans, genealogy research hits a “brick wall” or a dead end at 1865. This image of the green plant breaking through the brick wall symbolizes both the ability of the 246 Years Project to break the genealogical “brick wa

For many descendants of enslaved Africans, genealogy research hits a “brick wall” or a dead end at 1865. This image of the green plant breaking through the brick wall symbolizes both the ability of the 246 Years Project to break the genealogical “brick wall” and the strength and resilience of those who endured 246 Years of enslavement.

246 Years Project

Morven Park is proud to launch the 246 Years Project,
a social justice initiative dedicated to honoring the millions of enslaved men, women, and children whose names and life stories have been forgotten or, in some cases, withheld from the national narrative.


What is the 246 Years Project?

In August 1619, a group of twenty Africans were brought to Jamestown, Virginia, and sold to the settlement. On December 6, 1865, the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment liberated close to four million individuals from slavery.

In the 246 years between 1619 and 1865, vast numbers of Africans and their descendants were held in bondage and legally considered property. As property, their names are absent from most standard government records such as census, birth, and death registers. These 246 years of omission prevent current descendants of enslaved Africans from being able to trace their ancestry through the many on-line genealogy services available today.

Until now…

For 246 years the life events of enslaved individuals were recorded in a variety of documents by enslavers managing their “property”. These records survive today in the archives of historic sites, community history organizations, and local courts.

The 246 Years Project will collect this fragmentary biographical data and organize it within a custom-built, on-line database, reassembling the pieces to reveal the life stories of individual men, women and children who were enslaved. Even more importantly, the 246 Years Database will link parents and children, allowing descendants to trace their family’s story through 246 years of slavery. This searchable database will be available on-line, free of charge, for everyone.

The 246 Years Project will bring to light thousands of untold stories of strength, resilience, and persistence. It creates the opportunity for truth-telling, memorialization, and reconciliation.

The scope of the 246 Years Project is breath-taking in its enormity, significance, and impact. Morven Park is a nonprofit organization committed to serving the people of Loudoun County and the surrounding region. Therefore, the descendants of the people enslaved in Loudoun will be the first to benefit from this project.

We need your help…

Join us in this important work by donating to the 246 Years Project today. Your donation will fund the creation of the database and support the research team in their meticulous efforts to locate, identify, and connect thousands of individuals.

To learn more about the 246 Years Project, the 246 Years Advisory Committee, or other ways you can help, please contact the team at 246Years@MorvenPark.org.

For many descendants of enslaved Africans, genealogy research hits a “brick wall” or a dead end at 1865. This image of the green plant breaking through the brick wall symbolizes both the ability of the 246 Years Project to break the genealogical “brick wall” and the strength and resilience of those who endured 246 Years of enslavement.

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