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Unveiling the Past:

Reckoning with Our History of Enslavement at Hollins



In spring 2020, students in the Cultural Property, Rights and Museum course began working on an exhibit, Unveiling the Past: Reckoning with Our History of Enslavement at Hollins University, in conjunction with members of the Hollins University Working Group on Slavery and Its Contemporary Legacies. The exhibit examines objects and images held by the University Archives in the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University. Material researched by students are on display in this virtual exhibit. Those working on this exhibit wanted to create a public space to reckon with our Hollins past and give a forum to those who were not given a voice, name, space, or attention in the past. It is the goal of this exhibit to show the lasting effects slavery has had, and continues to have, here; and, to recognize that Hollins continues to benefit from a history of enslavement.


It should be noted that rhetoric found in archival material used in the exhibit references the historical term “servant” rather than “slave” or “enslaved.” This shows how language can be used as a tool of oppression and an audience who does not know this substitution may not understand what the term is referencing. The term “servant” was also in continued use after emancipation into the 20th century to reference certain employees.






In recognition of the men and women highlighted in this exhibit and to the individuals lost to the historical record



Cultural property, rights and museum students for their work on this exhibit


For their work and guidance:

Jenine Culligan, Director of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum

Beth Harris, Special Collections Librarian and Archivist

Kyra Schmidt, photographer and website designer, Visitor Services and Programs Coordinator

Brittney Flowers, Alumna class of 2017


The exhibition titled Unveiling the Past: Reckoning with Our History of Enslavement at Hollins was to be presented in the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University from April 9 – April 26, 2020, however due to the Covid-19 pandemic the museum was closed to the public and the exhibit was made available only online.

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