Cliveden in historic Germantown has undertaken a monumental overhaul of its site interpretation. Beginning in 1994, staff members and volunteers researched over 230,000 Chew family documents related to enslaved Africans and servants at Cliveden and Chew family plantations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Researchers at Cliveden believe the project rewrites the history of Historic Germantown
The Emancipating Cliveden project has resulted in a new interpretive website, a multimedia presentation and an orientation exhibit entitled Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness? The new website explores and presents the expanded history of Cliveden, includes previously unseen historical images, and an interactive map of Cliveden. The site urges visitors to Know It (the architecture of Cliveden), Feel It (the people of Cliveden), and Share It (a blog on recent discoveries).
It is hoped that the new features will combine historical facts and modern perspectives with “American stories of privilege, oppression, independence, slavery, race, the struggle for freedom and the tensions between democratic ideals and capitalist principles.” In staging the Emancipating Cliveden Project, Cliveden strives to tell a more complete story while allowing visitors to examine and question many of the contradictions in American history.
Emancipating Cliveden will be unveiled on Independence Day at Cliveden. The festivities for the day will include Reenactment and Griot storytelling by Denise Valentine, free tours of the Chew Mansion, the premiere of the Emancipating Cliveden film and the Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness? exhibit. The celebration begins on Wednesday, July 4th at 12:00 noon and continues until 4:00 pm.