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Department of Research

DOCUMENTARY AND HISTORICAL RESEARCH AT MONTPELIER

Documentary Research

Montpelier's African American Descendants' Project

Resources

The Montpelier Research Department conducts historical inquiry into the life and times of James and Dolley Madison, the Enslaved Community and their descendants, and the United States Constitution. Our research supports Montpelier’s educational and interpretive programs, curatorial exhibitions, and publications.

Research Projects

The Montpelier Research Department conducts numerous projects in support of our mission. Our digital database, available to researchers, scholars, and the general public by appointment, is regularly updated with historical documents and current research reports. To learn more about the work we do, see sample projects, and visit online exhibitions, use the buttons to the right.

Digging Deeper Blog

Our blog is where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at all of our projects, and learn more about what our researchers do. Dive into the day-to-day world of historical research!

The Pink House

What is the Pink House? Nope, I am not talking about Barbie’s dream house, even though it may look similar. I am actually talking about ...
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The Naming Project: Judy

James Madison received John as a gift from his father, along with John’s mother Sinar and his five siblings. John accompanied Madison to Philadelphia in ...
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Preventative Measures In the House

“Good storage is preventive conservation.”   Storing Objects When you think of museum storage, what do you think of? Do you think of the giant ...
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Garden Statuary Care

Ever wonder how our garden statuary is cared for? Read here to find out more!
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James Madison's Montpelier, Orange County Virginia

Documenting Some Overlooked Buildings at Montpelier

An overview of the first week-long Building Documentation Expedition
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James Madison's Montpelier, Orange County Virginia

Subfloor Pits: Exploring Archaeological Discoveries in the Cellar of the Main House

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Out of Sight, But Not Out of Mind

Dive into collections storage with this in-depth blog all about the ins and outs of storing Montpelier’s decorative arts collection.
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Ten Words with James Madison

How does your vocabulary match up to James Madison’s? Take our Madisonian Vocabulary Quiz and find out!
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What’s in a Number?

When looking at labels in your favorite museum, you might notice that the objects are referred to with specific sets of numbers. Sometimes a combination ...
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Connect Past to the Present

Visit The Mere Distinction of Colour Exhibition!

The Team

Hilarie M. Hicks

Hilarie M. Hicks, MA

Senior Research Historian
Hilarie M. Hicks came to Montpelier in 2010 and joined the Research Department in 2011. She served on the research and writing team for the award-winning exhibition The Mere Distinction of Colour. Hilarie’s current research interests include plantation operations, James and Dolley Madison, and any topic that she hasn’t looked into yet. Having earned her B.A. at the College of William and Mary and her M.A. from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies, Hilarie’s historic site experience includes working as a historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg (VA), as curator of interpretation at Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens (New Bern, NC), and as executive director of the Rosewell Ruins (Gloucester, VA). She is a board member of the Orange County Historical Society and volunteers as a judge for the We the People student competition. Hilarie has since accepted the position of Director of Museum Programs at Montpelier in 2022.