Understanding Slavery: Whitney Plantation


Growing up, I’ve always learned about slavery in my history classes, but it’s never enough, not until you actually experience it yourself but let me tell you this, it is still not enough.

Prior to traveling to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras, Stacey and I had researched on what else to see and do out there. Once we learned about Whitney Plantation, we knew we just had to take this opportunity.

Interesting Facts about Slaves and Whitney Plantation:

  • Whitney Plantation is the first and only museum in America that focus primarily on slavery.
  • John Cummings, a founder, has spent over 8 million dollars of his own money to restore and built this plantation within a 16 years period. It was first opened in December 2014.
  • Slavery were first introduced in Louisiana during the 17th century. Indentured servants (poorer class of Europeans) were first used for labor but then replaced by Africans since they are cheaper labor.
  • Federal Writers’ Projects were formed in the 1930s by Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression, where they went and interviewed former slaves. Many of their bios and stories are shared here in Whitney Plantation. Most of them are survivors and were children slaves since slavery ended after the Civil War.
  • Slaves were not allowed to practice their own religions. They must follow according to their owners. They must meet secretly in forests.

When we first arrived to Whitney Plantation, we entered the visitor’s center where we were given our badges that had an enslaved child along with their biography as we patiently waited to meet our tour guide.

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Our badges that contained biographies of slaves

Our first stop was at Antioch Baptist Church, where we had watched a video and got to see many statues of enslaved children.

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Inside of Antioch Baptist Church

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One of the enslaved children statues

We were taken to the memorial where it contained 107,000 names of slaves and some stories, which was found by the Freedom Writers’ Project.

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Lilo reading all the names and stories on the memorial

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Slaves Quarters

The big bowls in front of the slaves quarters are used for making sugar canes. The slaves would be outside all day long, processing sugar canes even during the heat.

We got to see the inside of a small slave quarter, which contained a bed where 4 to 5 slaves would sleep together and a chimney where they would cook their food. They don’t normally have beds, so they usually sleep on a sheet on the floor.

One of the interesting information that our tour guide shared with us: the slaves usually work out in the field picking sugar canes or processing it inside the big bowl for 16 to 18 hours. So sometimes, they would leave their food to cook inside the chimney while they were out. However, that causes fires and can burn down the slaves quarters. So a few slaves that stayed home to cook food, they would share with all the slaves as a community.

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A slave quarter

We were then introduced to the iron jail cell where they had held slaves inside. Our tour guide informed us that they normally fit in about 45 people in one cell. I just couldn’t believe it when she said that!  They normally held slaves inside before they are auctioned off to their future owners. When I walked inside the cell, it was quite chilling. I had goosebumps just thinking of the tiny space inside. I can’t even imagine them standing and sitting inside in the heat.

Noted: Through research, I had learned that these jail cells were also used to punish slaves if they had tried to run away so they had to wait for owners to “buy” them out.

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The holding cell that’s called Jail

Our last stop was where we got to see the inside of the Big House where the owners lived. It was a quite a big difference! The Big House contained many furnitures and decorations along with huge bedrooms.

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Stacey in front of the Big House

Overall Review:

Prior to attending Whitney Plantation, we had contacted ahead of time to see if we could request an interpreter. However, it was explained that it was hard for them to get an interpreter due to the remote area, so they were willing to accommodate us through a written script of the tour. This was helpful; however, this may not be suitable for nor preferred by some Deafs and Hard of Hearings. Although the scripts did not necessary include every information that they talk about during the tour, luckily for us, our tour guide was very understanding and was very patient with us. She was very accommodating by answering all of our written questions, making sure we followed along and know where we were at. We used gestures and written notes to communicate.

Even though, our tour guide did the best she could do to make sure we got everything we needed from our tour, it was still difficult, because we had to look back and forth from the script to the tour. In addition, the people in our group (who also participated the tour) asked questions, and the tour guide shared more information and stories, which we missed some new information. So it is our recommendation to get an interpreter, because it would make things so much easier, more accessibility. We provided guideline how to accommodate with Deaf and Hard of Hearing and how to find local interpreter agencies, which we believe it will be very beneficial to them for future Deaf and Hard of Hearing visitors.

There are a lot more to this plantation, but we really didn’t want to spoil it for our readers. Pictures doesn’t do justice, it’s something that every Americans and others must experience themselves.  The fact that it is the first and only museum that focuses on slavery makes it a one of a kind experience. Don’t just read about history, explore and live through the history.

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Video  🙂

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Operating Hours and Tours Informations

Address: 5099 Louisiana 18, Wallace, LA 70049

Phone number: 

Admission: $22 for adults (Discounted prices of $15 available for military, students and senior citizens) and Free for children under the age of 12.

Special thank you to Ashley Rogers for providing the written script for us and our tour guide D’Lawn for accommodating with us.

Disclaimer: Despite the exchange for an honest review and providing feedback how to service the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, everything is based on our own opinions. 

The first and only museum in America that focus primarily on slavery, 

Would you visit the Whitney plantation


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28 thoughts on “Understanding Slavery: Whitney Plantation

  • sabrina barbante

    This must have been a very strong and educational experience! I read it carefully and I wish I could go there! If you’d like to read something interesting about Louisiana slavery and end-of-slavery history, search for the book Louisiana by Mauruce Denuncière. It’s an amazing book!

  • Juergen | dare2go

    Interesting, very interesting. It seems overdue that America finally recognises the plight of the early slaves. And nice to know that Louisiana has another tourist attraction worth visiting. When we travelled through in 2006 there wasn’t much to see – half a year after Katrina.

  • Jackie

    This museum looks like such an incredible learning experience. Your post actually proves how much more valuable first-hand experiences are compared with book learning. The period in history becomes much more alive and your understanding is deeper. I’ll definitely add this to my list the next time I head to Lousiana. I’m also going to pin it!

  • Christopher

    This is some pretty heavy stuff but thank you for sharing it. I watched you video too. I wish I could understand sign language cause it is a beautiful thing to watch when to people are talking in sign. I subscribed to your channel. 🙂

  • Sue Reddel

    Thanks for providing this really useful information about the Whitney Plantation. You are absolutely right in suggesting that everyone should explore not only this museum but history as well to understand how slavery is such an important part of American history. They certainly seemed to be more than willing to accommodate your requests to help you have a good experience during your visit.

  • Meg Jerrard

    Wow, what a sobering experience. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to have been a slave – I think museums like this are so important for preserving this history, as I believe we can only learn from the past if we know enough about it.

    I’m glad to hear that they were as accommodating as they could be. Totally understand how it would be difficult to read from a script and try and take in all of the sight as well. Good on you guys for passing on information on how they can improve the experience for those with hearing impairments 🙂

  • Mar Pages

    I hate how awful history is sometimes, but at the same time we all should be aware so we never make the same mistakes again. Thank you for the knowledge you’ve passed on here, and your advice. 🙂

  • Milosz Zak

    We had Black History Month at Law School and it was often brought up that the profession is too white and too disconnected from reality. I really think it is a work in progress, and we’re definitely not going to see parity in our lifetime – can’t give up, though.

  • Dan Vineberg

    This is a great resource.

    It really is incredible to think that there is only one museum in the US dedicated primarily to slavery.

    I guess some would rather forget the facts we all must remember!

  • Vicki

    Its such an interesting topic and it’s great the founder has spent so much of his own money to remind people of the history. It’s a shame they couldn’t find an interpreter for you – but maybe they will after this post!

  • Lauren

    Wow, I would really like to visit this place. I think it’s important to showcase the things that you’ve done horribly wrong in history to make sure they never repeat themselves.

  • Tracie Howe

    This reminds me a lot of the Oak Alley Plantation I visited outside of New Orleans. I was pleased to see that the entire area around the slave’s quarters were dedicated to their lives and their successes. They were the backbone of the plantations after all.

  • Criz

    I didn’t know there is a museum like this. This reminds me of that movie about 12 years of slavery. It is very interesting and powerful experience. It also reminds me of that experience I had when visiting the holocaust museum in Israel. It was very sad adn touching really..

  • Kevin Wagar

    This is such a powerful place and it is so important that it’s lessons are not lost to history. It’s fascinating reading your adventures and following the struggles that you deal with in communication. It sounds like they worked hard to help get the information across for you, but it must always be a challenge.

  • Isabela Mariano

    I have no idea that this museum exists! Thanks for sharing. I can’t believe that we would do that to each other as humans. I’m thankful that there is a museum dedicated to those whose freedoms had been stripped from them.

  • Trisha Velarmino - P.S. I'm On My Way

    Wow what an interesting side trip. Louisiana is soooo rich in culture and history. I can’t wait to get my chance to visit, experience Mardi Gras and take this insightful side trip. I grew up in Southeast Asia and we didn’t really have American history integrated into our curriculum and everything I know about slavery and the slave trade is from pop culture references. I would want to know and understand more.
    More power to you guys! I love reading about the stories and experiences that you Stacey share!

  • Kim Smith

    This is surely a place I would like to visit and learn. Also Oak Alley Plantation. It is important for us to learn about slavery and understand how we have evolved from that mindset. I appreciate your videos with sign language. I am not deaf but this is a great service for those who are.

    • deafinitelywanderlust

      thank you! 🙂 yes! Oak Alley Plantation too, you’re right! We went there and certainly learn a lot from it. And it’s true, it’s important for us to learn how we evolved from that mindset. Thank you for reading! 🙂