Emancipating Cliveden

Cliveden of the National Trust


Cliveden of the National Trust, an 18th-century historic house in Germantown, undertook Emancipating Cliveden, a radical reinterpretation of the site based on extensive evidence of the Chew family's slaveholding. The Chews were one of the largest slaveholding families in Pennsylvania and created a lavish lifestyle at their Germantown home, built on wealth rooted in chattel slavery. Emancipating Cliveden was the result of planning process rooted in community dialogue and engagement, and painstaking research with primary source documents, funded by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in 2010. The relationship between wealth, privilege, and slavery in early American culture was investigated and interpreted at Cliveden in new exhibitions, multimedia installations, and public programs in an effort to reveal the full truth of Cliveden's past and to reach wider and more diverse audiences. The site has continued its offerings of Cliveden Conversations—dialogue-based public programs—which aim to create a safe and respectful place for discussions on the emotionally difficult subject of slavery and its repercussions for contemporary American society.