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The mission of the Descendants’ Project is to keep and grow an official registry of all people that identify as descendants whether owners, workers, enslaved, free and allied families during the museum’s historical dates of significance and early museum history, and encourage enrichment through their stories, engaging descendants and their families in the museum’s vision and mission, operations, events, support and leadership.


Stories from descendant perspectives add richness to Sotterley and the lives we reach, teach, and touch. Descendants from across the nation and the world visit Sotterley and already feel the connection. We want to know your powerful stories. Memories of your life and your ancestors help us tell Sotterley’s story as well as enrich the lives of others searching for their past to bring meaning and relevance to the present and future. Whether you know you are descended from Sotterley’s people or just think you are, you are welcome to fill out a form, visit, and keep in touch.

Historic Sotterley has always had descendants who were and are connected and involved with the museum. However, we knew there were others out there that were looking for their roots, other family members, searching for their history, and as a museum, we wanted to grow our “official” list of descendants. In April 2017, Sotterley dedicated the 1830’s slave cabin exhibit to the late Agnes Kane Callum, a Sotterley descendant and Sotterley Board emeritus. It was a wonderful gathering of community and descendants of workers, owners, and enslaved, with speakers and storytelling. It was then that Sotterley announced the beginning of a formal Descendants Project. We get new registrants every week, because Sotterley has descendants all over the world!

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Do you think your legacy is tied to ours?

Help us grow this imitative by filling out the Descendants form and/or contacting us at

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Healing and Heritage


Using the Reality of Our Shared History to Build a Better Future

The first step to healing, is understanding the truth about our history. This grounds us and gives us strength to endure and face our struggles today. As we study history we find out about how our ancestors struggled and persevered, and even how they made the wrong choices or the right choices. It gives us a layer of power and resilience to know our stories and where we came from, our heritage, and how really connected we all are. The American myth of the loner individualist that only relied on themselves turns to dust, as we realize our ancestors relied on others in the family, community, servants or slaves, or even total strangers to give them support somehow, through employment, through their very lives, though charity or just encouragement, love and companionship.

Once we know the true story, then we can accept our past, all of our past, the good and the bad. We can examine our own lives to see ourselves and maybe think about an issue in a new way, or seek other perspectives on the same issue. Even though we aren’t responsible for our ancestors’ mistakes, maybe on closer examination, we are still making the same mistakes. Ancestors pass on more than their DNA!

One’s own experiences of lives lived are powerful testaments to future healing, happiness and resilience. It makes us strong, and that strength and lessons learned can and should be shared with future generations.

Historic Sotterley is a place that anyone can visit and learn about lives lived to find history, heritage and healing. Listen to the past as we build our collective futures.

Research and Resources
Six Degrees