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The Montpelier Foundation prides itself on collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, and The Digital Doorway is designed for people interested in taking a peak behind the scenes at Montpelier. There are a number of specific stakeholder groups that the content on this website is designed to engage. Below, you will find a description of some of these major groups, and some initial resources that might be of use for each group. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our departments if you want to learn more about how to participate!

Researchers and Scholars

There are a number of groups of people who look to Montpelier as an information resource for research and scholarship, and the Museum Programs Division is full of professional scholars and researchers who are able to help you find what you need to conduct your research, be it academic scholarship, graduate work, or genealogical research. We have extensive collections relating to Montpelier’s history, archaeology, architecture, and furnishings. We encourage you to peruse our department pages to determine if any members of our staff, many of whom conduct research and many with advanced degrees, are well suited to provide support, and to take a look at the resources listed here to get an idea as to the scope of the scholarly resources we have available.

The Montpelier Research Database

The Montpelier Research Database (MRD) is a comprehensive database of transcriptions of historical documents and oral histories relating to the Montpelier property, James and Dolley Madison, and the African American community that has lived on the property from the early 18th century to today. It is currently available to use on site, and inquiries of the database can be made through the Research Department.

Archaeology Reports and Publications

The Archaeology Department has been conducting excavations on the property since 1987, and has extensive collections relating to multiple periods of occupation at Montpelier. The reports listed here provide an overview of the variety of sites and collections available to scholars to research, which range from sites of slavery, plantations, civil war encampments, and post-emancipation landscapes.

Digging Deeper Blog

The Digging Deeper Blog is a place where Montpelier researchers are contributing regular posts about the research they are conducting on a daily basis at Montpelier. Visit the page regularly to see what new discoveries are being made by our research teams and our collaborators!

Montpelier Descendant Community

Montpelier prides itself on its collaboration with descendants of the communities that lived and worked at Montpelier, and have worked for decades to ensure that the research and stories that are told on the property are done through collaboration and consultation with descendants. This process has been ongoing, from excavations and restoration work at the Gilmore Cabin and Train Depot, up to and including the Mere Distinction of Colour exhibition, and are ongoing in our current and future research and interpretative efforts. Members of the Montpelier Descendant Community can use this website as a resource to learn more about their families, keep up to date on the ongoing research being done at Montpelier, and, as the site grows, include their voice in the conversation.


The Montpelier Descendants Project

The Descendants’ Project seeks to connect with the descendants of enslaved people at Montpelier and the surrounding areas and work with them to make decisions about how we interpret slavery, freedom, and African American history. It began in the early 2000s, when a group of descendants approached the Montpelier Foundation and inquired about the preservation of African American history on the property. Over the past eighteen years, Montpelier has partnered with descendants and the Orange County African American Historical Society to better interpret African American history in Orange and at Montpelier.

Public Archaeology Programs

Archaeological excavations provide some of the most valuable information we have regarding the lived experience of African Americans at Montpelier. Our public archaeology programs provide a number of opportunities for members of the descendant community to participate in this process, and the archaeology department staff works with descendants towards making the entire research process is collaborative, participatory, and respectful. Members of the African American community are encouraged to participate in our programs!


The Mere Distinction of Colour

The Mere Distinction of Colour Exhibition is Montpelier’s award winning presentation of the stories of African American life at Montpelier and its intersection with the Constitution. Based on historical, archaeological, and architectural evidence, as well as collaboration with members of the Montpelier Descendant Community, this exhibition was supported by generous funding from David Rubenstein, and presents an honest and emotional examination of the institution of slavery, the communities it held in bondage, and its legacy today.

Expedition Program Attendees

Montpelier has developed four different week-long, hands-on Expedition programs that give members of the public with no experience opportunities to work alongside members of the archaeology department to learn how sites are located, excavated, analyzed, and reconstructed. The LEARN Expedition Program is one of the few like it in the country. Participants leave with a full understanding of the archaeological process, understand how archaeology at Montpelier is integral to our understanding the place, and become members of the larger Montpelier Family.

The website has a number of resources that will be of interest to Expeditioners, be they participants in the Metal Detecting, Excavation, Lab Analysis, or Reconstruction Program.

Montpelier Archaeology Department

Visit the Montpelier Archaeology Department Page to see all the projects conducted by the Archaeology Department, read about the in depth research conducted by the department, and to meet the staff!

Public Archaeology at Montpelier

Learn about all the different opportunities that the Montpelier Archaeology Department provides for the public to be involved, including our LEARN Archaeology Expedition Programs, DigIt Hands-On Tours, and many more!

Log Cabin Reconstruction Program

The Log Cabin Reconstruction Program is an opportunity for you to participate in bringing buildings on the Montpelier landscape discovered archaeologically back. Participants learn how to use historic tools to build an authentic log cabin on the same location of an archaeologically discovered slave dwelling. Learn about the program and the many buildings reconstructed so far!

Museum Professionals

The Montpelier Foundation prides itself on approaching historic home interpretation in creative and thoughtful ways, and wants to conduct this work as part of a larger community of museum professionals. Throughout this website, our colleagues at museums around the country can learn about how Montpelier engages with visitors to present the many stories that are a part of our landscape.

Mere Distinction of Colour Exhibition

The Mere Distinction of Colour Exhibition is Montpelier’s award winning presentation of the stories of African American life at Montpelier and its intersection with the Constitution. Based on historical, archaeological, and architectural evidence, as well as collaboration with members of the Montpelier Descendant Community, this exhibition was supported by generous funding from David Rubenstein, and presents an honest and emotional examination of the institution of slavery, the communities it held in bondage, and its legacy today.

Digging Deeper Blog

Read blog posts by our museum staff, including interpreters, Department heads, and researchers about the thought processes behind our interpretive efforts. Become part of the conversation!

Department of Education & Visitor Engagement

Montpelier’s interpretive efforts are coordinated through this department. Visit their page to see the many projects and efforts they have led to ensure Montpelier’s interpretation is cutting edge and confronting the complex stories of our nation’s founding, the Constitution, and slavery, and its connection to the present.

Teachers and Educators

Teachers and educators are a critical stakeholder in our work at Montpelier. Whether they are bringing a class to visit the property, or participating in one of the many training seminars offered through the Center for the Constitution or Department of Archaeology, our institution engages regularly with K-12 educators and higher education faculty to ensure they have the resources to teach effectively.

The information on this website will aim to provide teachers and educators visiting the property with a variety of resources to enhance their experience on the property and in the classroom.

Education Program Information

Visit this page if you are a teacher bringing your students to visit Montpelier. You will find a variety of resources to enhance your visit, ranging from maps and visitor information, to different activities to do before and after your visit!


Center for the Constitution Programs

The Center for the Constitution offers a number of opportunities for teachers to explore the Constitution with leading scholars from around the country. These programs are 3-day educational workshops held at Montpelier and satisfy a number of requirements for teachers.

Archaeology Programs for Teachers

The Archaeology Department partners with Archaeology in the Community to offer a week long archaeology excavation expedition designed for teachers. Spend time working in the field and lab each morning, and then spend the afternoon taking what you have learned and applying it to the classroom. Limited spots are available, so apply soon!

Montpelier Volunteers

There are number of opportunities to volunteer in the Museum Programs division, and our volunteer community is large and supportive! Volunteers work alongside our staff in the archaeology lab cataloging and washing artifacts, with researchers conducting transcriptions, in the garden working with our horticultural team, and at various other spots across the property. We also have many volunteers who lend special skillsets to our team, be it through photography, construction skillsets, or something we haven’t thought of yet! It is a wonderful way for people interested in being part of the Montpelier family to participate and learn about what happens behind the scenes at James Madison’s home. To learn how to participate, please click below!

Digging Deeper Blog

Visit the blog to learn about the many things being discovered by Montpelier staff with the help of their many volunteers!

Copy of Aaron Watson Photography 005

Museum Programs Division

Read about the many departments within the Montpelier Museum Programs Division to see the many different places you may be able to help out!

Online Transcription

Montpelier has partnered with the British Museum to provide online transcription of our ongoing artifact cataloging project. You can help us data enter our artifacts from home!!