In April 2019, on Jamestown Island, Jamestown Rediscovery will open new exhibits and will launch public programs telling the significant stories of 1619. Within the Memorial Church, archaeologists have recently delineated the outline of the ‘quire’ and chancel of the timber-framed church, the very spot where democracy began in English North America.
The exhibit, which will replicate the floorplan of the 1617 church, will explore the events and legacies of the first General Assembly, presided over by Governor Sir George Yeardley in July and August of 1619. New exhibits in The Voorhees Archaearium Archaeology Museum will challenge long-held perceptions of democracy, diversity, and race in early English America. They will explore difficult themes such as the ‘othering’ and exploitation of Africans, Virginia Indians, and indentured servants; the genesis of an English system of race-based slavery; and the establishment of a plantation society reliant on tobacco.
“Fort to Port” will examine Jamestown’s evolution in twelve years from a small triangular fort to a major port in the Atlantic Seaboard. “A Foundation for Success” will build on decades of excavation in and around James Fort and will detail the architectural chronology from the first structures to substantial brick buildings.
These exhibits and programs will complement discoveries made on Jamestown Island whereby visitors can walk in the footsteps of the early settlers who built James Fort, sit where the first representative government met, stand where Pocahontas married John Rolfe, and experience the moment of discovery where Angela – one of the first enslaved Africans in Virginia – lived.