Montgomery Museum plans exhibit highlighting black history in southwestern Virginia


Stroll through the Montgomery Museum of Art and History to see a rare 1920 Maxwell car. In the back of the museum is an archived brown leather bound book. this community.

Museum curator Shelly Wyatt turns the pages of store ledgers dating back to 1822-1825. This ledger records the daily transactions of a general store that was once located in downtown Christiansburg.

“Everyone who lived in Montgomery County interacted with the store in some way,” Wyatt said.

She said this includes black men and women who are sometimes sent to the store to purchase items on behalf of the owner. 20 pounds of nails per boy.” “Boy” did not refer to a child, but an enslaved man. His name is not recorded in the ledger, but you may be able to learn his name by examining other records of the household he was enslaved to.

The Montgomery Museum received a grant from the Virginia Museum of History and Culture to digitize and study the information recorded in this store ledger. They use it to create interactive exhibits that focus on black life in Southwest Virginia.

Kyle Store Ledger

Daniel Thorpe, an associate professor at Virginia Tech who has studied the history of black men and women in southwestern Virginia since the 1800s, said: For years, he says, most historians have ignored these stories.

“Routine life would have been blacks and whites working together, eating together, going to church together,” Thorpe said. “Not equals, but next to each other. And I think that’s something that’s been forgotten.”

Though Thorpe isn’t directly involved in Kyle Ledger’s grant, he says it helps uncover more untold stories of black history.

The Montgomery Museum plans to launch interactive exhibits by this winter, focusing on the store’s ledger and slave history in Montgomery County. We plan to launch a new educational lab that can be used with

A 1920 Maxwell car on display at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History.

A 1920 Maxwell car on display at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History.

of Montgomery Museum of Art and Historycelebrates its 40th anniversaryth This year’s anniversary will be Tuesday through Friday from 10:30-4:30 and Saturday from 1:00-4:00.

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