Annette Gordon-Reed - "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family"

Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and a professor of history at Harvard.

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Classroom-Ready Resources

Video Timestamps

  • 1:00 - How were you introduced to the story of the Hemings family?
  • 3:54 - Sally Hemings’ mother, Elizabeth
  • 7:00 - The other members of the Hemings family
  • 11:15 - The bond between the Hemingses and Monticello 
  • 14:00 - What happens to the Hemings family after Thomas Jefferson dies?
  • 19:50 - The process of researching the Hemings family
  • 23:58 - How much pushback did you receive in historical circles and the general public when publishing your book?
  • 26:45 -  As a public history site, How well does Monticello teach the public about the role of slavery at the site in the larger context of American history? What is the role of public history in terms of educating the public about this issue?
  • 29:10 - Updates since you wrote the book that altered your perspective on the relationship between the Hemings and Jefferson families and their descendants
  • 31:57 - How can teachers focus on Sally to educate students about the complexities of slavery as an institution?
  • 34:37 - The biggest misconception surrounding the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings
  • 35:44 - What challenges did you face changing the historiography about this issue and disagreeing with other historians who have long written about this topic?
  • 38:42 - The Hemingses and the paradoxes of Jefferson’s legacy
  • 42:14 - How do you read or analyze your sources to uncover the voices of enslaved people? 
  • 46:30 - How much agency would the Hemings family have had over their lives or what was the extent and nature of their privilege? 
  • 50:25 - Do you think stories like that of the Hemings family supported a longtime false narrative that enslaved people working in the domestic sphere as opposed the field were recipients of preferential treatment?

Primary Sources


Lesson Plans