Jamestown Settlement chronicles the founding of America's first permanent English colony at Jamestown in 1607 and its first century. The experience of African Americans in 17th century Virginia is described in the Jamestown Gallery exhibit, "A Culture Apart."
The first documented Africans in British North America arrived at Jamestown after landing at Point Comfort in 1619. While early African arrivals may have been indentured servants, lifetime servitude for most Africans had become established in the colony by mid-century. The existence of indentured servitude, and eventually slavery, in Virginia was closely tied to the colony's need for labor to cultivate tobacco, the most important cash crop in the 17th century.
Artifacts on exhibit include a 17th century African crucifix from Zaire, a map by Abraham Ortelius showing the kingdoms and states of Africa in 1570, and a 1600 English translation of "A Geographical Historie of Africa" from the original Arabic text by African scholar John Leo.
At Jamestown Settlement, an introductory film and indoor exhibition galleries allow visitors to discover the political, social, and economic factors that led to the English colonization of Jamestown, the culture of the Powhatan Indians, and events during the Virginia colony's first century when Jamestown served as its capital. Outdoors, visitors can experience colonial Virginia firsthand from costumed historical interpreters in re-creations of a Powhatan Indian village, palisaded colonial fort and replicas of the three ships - Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery - that brought colonists from England.
Geographical and Contact Information
Route 31 South at Colonial Parkway