Open Daily, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm – Tickets Are Available Online.

Evenings with the Experts Series

About Evenings with the Experts

The “Evenings with the Experts” series explores recent research and work conducted by Montpelier staff. These one hour virtual events feature projects led by on-site experts working in collections, archaeology, and research. Join our team via Zoom once a month to learn more about the Madison family, the enslaved community, and the US Constitution.

Reading Between the Lines: Bringing Montpelier's Naming Project to Life

with Hilarie M. Hicks, Senior Research Historian

Launched in August 2020, The Naming Project is developing online biographies for each of the 300 people enslaved at Montpelier from 1723 to 1844. Hilarie M. Hicks, Senior Research Historian, will discuss decades of research conducted by Montpelier Foundation staff. How do individual stories come to life through tax records, wills, letters, newspapers, oral histories, and other sources? How does the Constitution relate to the lives of the enslaved? Hilarie will also reflect on what she has learned through writing the stories of 45 men, women, and children through their enslavement and (in some cases) into freedom afterwards.

Hilarie M. Hicks is the Senior Research Historian at James Madison’s Montpelier. Hilarie came to Montpelier in 2010 and joined the Research Department in 2011, where she conducts documentary research in support of the Montpelier Foundation’s many programs. She served on the research and writing team for the award-winning exhibition The Mere Distinction of Colour, and is currently writing biographies of the enslaved for The Naming Project on Montpelier’s Digital Doorway website. She is also a regular contributor to the website’s “Digging Deeper” blog. Her research interests include agriculture, livestock, and plantation operations at Montpelier, as well as the lives of James and Dolley Madison. Hilarie has served as a judge in the We the People student civics competition and is currently a board member of the Orange County Historical Society.

Hilarie has a broad background of experience in research, interpretation, and administration of historic sites. Before coming to Montpelier, Hilarie served as Curator of Interpretation at Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens (New Bern, NC) and Executive Director of the Rosewell Foundation (Gloucester, VA). She is an alum of the College of William and Mary (B.A.), the Cooperstown Graduate Program in History Museum Studies (M.A.), and the Seminar for Historical Administration (now the AASLH History Leadership Institute).

Recorded October 21, 2021

Montpelier’s Temple: Landscape of Labor

with Christopher J. Pasch, Archaeology Field Director

This event highlights the central role archaeology plays in contextualizing the dichotomy of Montpelier as a working plantation as well as the birthplace of the US Constitution. Using historical and archaeological evidence, Chris examines one of Montpelier’s most notable structures, the Temple. A place of leisure for the Madisons and their guests, the Temple simultaneously functioned as an ice house and site of enslaved labor. In this one hour event, Chis explores how this structure was a physical manifestation of the opposing ideas of liberty and slavery.

Christopher J. Pasch is the Archaeology Field Director at James Madison’s Montpelier. He earned his M.A. in Historical Archaeology from the University of Leicester. His thesis, “Enslaved Below the Temple of Liberty: Exposing the Hidden Landscape of the Temple and Icehouse at James Madison’s Montpelier,” uses the Temple to explore the ways archaeologists can use landscape, intersite comparison and theoretical analysis to understand these spaces at the intersection of white and Black experiences on the plantation.

Prior to working at Montpelier, Chris completed his field school at Historic St. Mary’s City  in 2012, and continued to work there until 2017. His areas of interest include the study of identity, landscape, memory, and heritage/preservation.

Recorded November 18, 2021

The Dining Dichotomy: Dinner for the Madisons/Dinner with the Madisons

with Leslie Lambour Bouterie,Visiting Curator of Ceramics

Dinner at Montpelier was a complex and impressive affair involving a cast of important “players”: hosts, guests, and servants. Each person had a role to play, proscribed by social convention and contemporary protocol. In an elegant setting designed to impress, tables and sideboards were carefully set with imported porcelain, gleaming silver, and sparkling glassware, indicative of the wealth and status of the Madisons. During the course of several hours, a well-orchestrated scenario played out as hosts and guests engaged in stimulating conversation while consuming multiple courses of a bountiful French-inspired feast, meticulously prepared and served by highly efficient, well trained, silent enslaved workers. The dichotomy of roles, that of the diners and that of the workers, was both pronounced and profound.

Leslie Lambour Bouterie, a native New Orleanian, is a career educator and ceramic specialist. Extensive travels, which exposed her to renowned collections of china, fueled her passion for ceramics, especially 18th and 19th century British printed and painted wares.

While residing in the Washington, DC area, she worked in the field of museum education and interpretation and held positions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Hillwood Museum and Gardens, and with the National Trust for Historic Preservation at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Now living in Charlottesville, VA, she serves as the Visiting Curator of Ceramics at James Madison’s Montpelier and as a Visiting Scholar for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. She is also a volunteer with public engagement programs and in the apiaries at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Monroe’s Highland.

Leslie currently serves on the board of the American Ceramic Circle, and served for many years as an executive board member of the Transferware Collectors Club. She continues to serve as an editor for their comprehensive research database. As an independent scholar, she provides consultation services to museums and historic sites, writes articles for publication, and speaks about antique ceramics at local, national and international seminars and conferences.

Recorded December 9, 2021

About the Host

Katie Crawford-Lackey

Katie Crawford-Lackey is the Public Historian in Residence at James Madison’s Montpelier. She joined the Museum Programs team in 2021 as part of the newly launched Constitution Initiative. Katie provides expertise and scholarly perspectives on Montpelier’s public programs and exhibitions. 

Formerly an independent historian with the National Park Service, Katie brings expertise in museum management, historic site interpretation, educational programming, and historic preservation. She earned her doctorate in public history from Middle Tennessee State University.