Enslaved Spaces at the University of Virginia

Enslaved labor did not end with the construction of the University of Virginia. Daily life at the University was maintained by the labor of enslaved men, women, and children. The Academical Village and surrounding grounds were the home to hundreds of enslaved individuals who were owned or rented by professors, hotelkeepers, and the University itself. They worked in the fields, the work yards behind the pavilions and hotels, and the buildings themselves. They cleaned, cooked, farmed, ran errands, and completed every other task necessary for daily life in 19th century America. Few names of enslaved individuals at the University of Virginia survive history, and even fewer details about individual lives. However, recent research has shed light on the lives of two enslaved women associated with the University, Lucy Cottrell and Isabella Gibbons.

Explore what is known about the lives of Lucy Cottrell and Isabella Gibbons below, as well as the physical spaces they lived and worked in at the University of Virginia.