Historic Sotterley Home Page

The Common Ground Initiative

Resilience, Remembrance, Honor, and Equity

The mission of Historic Sotterley’s continuing initiative, Common Ground, is to:

  • Bring together descendants, community, and partners to provide education, resources, remembrance, and celebrate cultures to aid in healing
  • Help uncover and eradicate racism and discrimination in all forms
  • Promote social equality and justice through the interpretation of authentic history and its relevance to effect social change
  • Encourage individual and group activism

Sotterley is grateful to the Maryland Heritage Area Authority for a generous grant for our 2020 Common Ground Initiative.  If you would like to support our mission and future programming, please donate below.



Maryland Heritage Area Authority

Common Ground Programming

Sotterley's Common Ground programming takes many forms, but one of the most common is monthly speaker events under Sotterley Presents: People and Perspectives. You can find out about upcoming Common Ground events on our events page, and watch past programming on our YouTube or below.

Previous Common Ground Programming

The Big Picture: Facebook Live with Jeanne Pirtle

Every Thursday at 2:00 PM EST


LINKS with Jerome Spears

January 20 – 7:00 p.m. EST


Journal of a Librarian Who Went to Prison for Money with Glennor Shirley

February 17 – 7:00 PM EST

Co-sponsored by St. Mary's County Public Library and Calvert Library


A Question of Freedom with Dr. William G. Thomas III

March 3 – 7:00 PM EST


Looking to the Past to Reclaim Our Future with John B. King Jr.

March 31 – 7:00 PM EST


Growing up at Sotterley with Donald M. Barber

April 21 – 7:00 PM EST


More than Ahnentafel Charts: A personal story of genealogy informing a career, interdisciplinary research, and social activism with Kent Randell

May 19 – 7:00 PM EST


The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family

with Dr. Bettye Kearse

July 7 – 7:00 PM EST


Return to a Native Place: Native People of the Chesapeake Region

with Dr. Gabrielle Tayac

August 4 – 7:00 PM EST


African American Gravesites

with Dr. Latif A. Tarik

August 18 – 7:00 PM EST


Descendants Panel: Changing the Narrative

with Jeanne Pirtle and Sotterley Descendants

August 19

Life in History

with Maya Davis

September 15th


History Unearthed: Archaeological Discoveries at Sotterley with Dr. Julie King

October 6 – 7:00 PM EST


The Color of My Country with Trudy Taliaferro

October 27th & 28th – 7:00 PM EST


Food and Black Freedom: Reflections on Race, Resistance, and the

Legacy of Food Injustice with Dr. Bobby J. Smith II

November 10 – 7:00 PM EST


Archaeology at Historic Sotterley

An archaeological site survey was conducted at Sotterley last year. The survey report will be completed sometime later this summer. Sotterley's archaeological assets are many and reveals life at Sotterley, especially of the African American people that were here in the early 19th century where evidence suggests quarters pre-dating Sotterley's existing cabin. There is documented evidence that African Americans were buried at Sotterley during and after slavery, but more research and archaeological work is needed to confirm grave sites, although it is highly likely there are some. Until confirmation, signage will be placed with maps of testing locations, along with names of people we know were buried at Sotterley, and  seating for reflection will be installed. As more research is done, information will be updated and our community and stakeholders will be consulted.

Join Sotterley's Descendant Registry

Become a member of the Descendants Committee

Share Sotterley's story with other family members 

Write your story of discovery for the Descendants Newsletter

Discover your origins, take a DNA test 

Make  a gift in honor or memory of one of your ancestors 

Name  a permanent bench in Historic Sotterley in memory of your ancestor 

Make a provision in your Will to honor your ancestor's legacy 

Our mission in motion...