Enslaved People Project

The Enslaved People Project is a joint effort of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, Van Cortlandt House Museum operated by The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York, and the Kingsbridge Historical Society.

While we know that the majority of enslaved people that lived in Van Cortlandt Park were either African or of African descent, a handful are described as “Indians” in the historical record. It is unknown if those people were indigenous to this area or brought here by their enslavers. It is called the ‘Enslaved People Project’ to be inclusive of all enslaved people who lived on Van Cortlandt Plantation, whether their origins are known or unknown.

The Enslaved People Project is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the New York City Council.

Currently, there are several efforts taking place, focused on educating the community about the Enslaved People of the Van Cortlandt Plantation:

1.) Task Force (for adults)

2.) Educational Curriculum (for young people)

3.) Virtual Presentations (all)

4.) Digital Tour (all)

5.) Juneteenth (all)

Enslaved People Project Task Force

The Enslaved People Project Task Force was created to provide guidance and assistance to the coalition formed by the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, Van Cortlandt House Museum, and Kingsbridge Historical Society. The purpose of this coalition is to bring to light the history of slavery on the plantation that became Van Cortlandt Park through a variety of educational initiatives and activities.  If you are interested in learning more about becoming a member of the Task Force please contact Christina Taylor, VCPA Deputy Director, at christina@vancortlandt.org or 718-601-1460.

Educational Curriculum

The Enslaved People Project Curriculum was funded by Bronx Community Board 8 and the New York City Council.  The Enslaved People Project created two curricula to be used by teachers:

4th Grade Curriculum

6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Curriculum

Arts Integration Residency

In the spring of 2022, Van Cortlandt Park Alliance worked with a Bronx-based teaching artist to pilot a brand new curriculum in a local middle school.
The purpose of this multidisciplinary program was to educate middle school students about the history of enslaved people in New York, and what is now known as Van Cortlandt Park, by using theater arts, creative writing, and social-emotional learning practices.

Additional Resources:

Learn About the Authors

Photos of Van Cortlandt Park 

Historical Photos of Van Cortlandt Park

Photos for Mapping Activities for 6th, 7th and 8th Grade Curriculum

Additional First Person Narrative for 6th, 7th and 8th Grade Curriculum

Additional Recipes for 6th, 7th and 8th Grade Curriculum

Notes to Teacher for Mapping for 6th, 7th and 8th Grade Curriculum

Suggested Videos: 

Mill running without commentary 

 Mill operating with titles explaining the process of grinding wheat

Dressing the mill stones including a good explanation of how grist mills work

Dressing the mill stones at Phillipsburg Mill

The Mill at Anselma, Pennsylvania – built in 1747

Millstone dressing at Anselma

Juneteenth Events

Juneteenth Ceremony 2021: In gratitude for the sacrifice of the African Ancestors who built what is now Van Cortlandt Park, the African Burial Ground in the park was consecrated on Saturday, June 19, 2021. 

Juneteenth Celebration 2022: Van Cortlandt Park Alliance and Bronx Arts Ensemble co-hosted an evening celebration of Juneteenth on Monday, June 20, 2022.