Plantation Histories and the University: Rethinking the Past During Virginia Tech’s 150th
February 16, 2022
Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus occupies land that was once worked by dozens of enslaved people. As Virginia Tech commemorates its 150th anniversary, a distinguished panel discussed the intertwined histories of Solitude, Smithfield, and Virginia Tech.
Solitude is the oldest builidng on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus, and a former plantation home. Smithfield, another plantation owned by members of the same slaveholding family, sits adjacent to campus and now operates as a museum. The event, held Feb. 22, discussed how the plantations’ histories are being reimagined during the university’s sesquicentennial celebration.
The panel featured Victoria Ferguson (director/docent of the Solitude-Fraction Site), Kerri Moseley-Hobbs (executive director of the “More Than A Fraction Foundation” and a Fraction family descendant), Ryan Spencer (executive director of William Preston’s Smithfield), and Daniel B. Thorp (associate professor of history at Virginia Tech, and author of “In the True Blue’s Wake: Slavery and Freedom among the Families of Smithfield Plantation”).
The event was sponsored by the Virginia Tech History Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, with support from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.