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UMW gallery preps show
Professor provides glimpse of upcoming show for U.S. National Slavery Museum

 This print, 'Dealers Inspecting a Negro at a Slave Auction in Virginia' from the Feb. 16, 1861, edition of The Illustrated London News, is part of an exhibit of U.S. National Slavery Museum artifacts to be displayed at the University of Mary Washington.
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Date published: 8/13/2004


Venitta McCall found it an emotional experience to walk through the Ridderhof Martin Gallery this week, where dozens of items on slavery and its legacy are being displayed.

The University of Mary Washington associate professor said a fellow instructor had told her about the impact, "but I guess I had to see it myself."

"It's emotional to see the richness of material," McCall said after a pre-opening look at the items making up "Reflections on American Slavery: Selected objects from the Collections of the United States National Slavery Museum." "I would hope students would feel as strongly."

McCall, Tom Fallace and George Meadows--instructors in UMW's education department--visited the campus gallery on Wednesday with a mission.

They're putting together instructional materials to send local school districts in the hope it will encourage teachers to bring students to the show that runs Aug. 23 through Oct. 8.

The exhibit at the Ridderhof Martin Gallery is giving the public its first glimpse into what's planned for the museum, to be built on 38 acres in the Fredericksburg part of the Celebrate Virginia project. Executive Director Vonita Foster said last week that the museum is on track to open in 2007.

Tom Somma, director of galleries for UMW, said it took a year to pull the show together--a period in which he worked with Foster, museum assistant James Damron and Foster's husband, Gerald Foster, a university professor in Richmond who is serving as the museum's volunteer scholar-in-residence.

One of the items on display came from Gerald Foster. It is an 1846 slave coin passed down to him from his great-grandfather.

The show fills two exhibit rooms and a small alcove and includes African textiles, news accounts, sheet music, shackles and documents.

One document is an "estate settlement" that lists the owner's property. It includes "one Negro man" valued at $333.33, "one Negro woman" valued at $320, a "Negro girl" valued at $175 and a second girl (indicated by the 1800s form of "ditto") valued at $160.

The list goes on to include a watch valued at $6, a spice box worth $3 and a pair of candle snuffers worth 50 cents.

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