Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

June 19, 1995

Library of Congress Traveling Exhibition - "Back of the Big House" on the Cultural Landscape of the Plantation Now on Tour

"Back of the Big House: The Cultural Landscape of the Plantation," a Library of Congress traveling exhibition, began touring the United States in February. Its first venue was Magnolia Mound Plantation in Baton Rouge, La., where it was on display from Feb. 4 to March 19; it was also on display at the Frank McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville from April 7 to May 31. Its next venue is the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, where it will be on view from Aug. 11 to Sept. 25.

The exhibition offers an uncommon perspective on plantation life, one from the point of view of the slaves. The images depict the contributions that slaves made to their communities and the ways in which they were able to make personal gains despite living under the most adverse conditions. The contributions of African Americans to the creation and maintenance of plantations is a significant, yet overlooked facet of architectural, cultural and social history.

Visitors to the exhibition are presented with a tour of the "business end" of the antebellum plantation. Along with the images, the exhibition contains quotes from slaves whose recollections of life on plantations provide insight into an important aspect of the American past. The quotations are drawn from the Library's collection of ex-slave narratives, which includes hundreds of oral interviews conducted by workers in the WPA's Federal Writers Project during the 1930s. Also included in the exhibition are photographs and architectural drawings from the Historic American Buildings Survey collection in the Library of Congress.

The schedule of other venues for the exhibition follows.

  • University of Arkansas
    Fayetteville
    Oct. 14 - Nov. 26, 1995
  • Library of Congress
    Washington, D.C.
    Dec. 16, 1995 - Jan. 28, 1996
  • Tolbert County Historical Museum
    Easton, Md.
    Feb. 17 - March 31, 1996
  • Sam Houston Memorial Museum
    Huntsville, Texas
    April 20 - June 2, 1996
  • Alabama Historical Commission
    Montgomery
    Aug. 24 - Oct. 6, 1996
  • Frederick Douglass Library
    University of Maryland/Eastern Shore
    Princess Anne
    Oct. 26 - Dec. 8, 1996
  • Virginia Historical Society
    Richmond
    Feb. 23 - April 9, 1997

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PR 95-082
6/19/95
ISSN 0731-3527

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