Many plantations across the south seek only to demonstrate how plantation owners and their families lived during the 18th and 19th centuries. At Magnolia Mound Plantation, several venues are offered to educate the public as to how slaves lived from day to day during this tumultuous time in American history.
The "other side of plantation life" has been demonstrated in programming developed as a dramatic presentation offered during Black History Month. In Their Own Voices: American Slaves Tell Their Story is based on extensive research of Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1926-1938, a collection of over 2300 first person accounts of slavery and the respondents' own reactions to bondage. This Works Progress Administration collection of oral histories stands as one of the most enduring and noteworthy achievements of the WPA. Other important collections used were found in the Louisiana State Archives, The Louisiana State Library and the Archives Department of the John Brother Cade Library at Southern University. By providing dialog in a public venue through this programming, people from all walks of life are able to hear the words of slaves and feel the sorrow, laughter, triumph and pain for those who suffered.
An 1830's slave cabin that was originally part of the Cherie Quarters on Riverlake Plantation is now a part of the plantation site. At one time Magnolia Mound Plantation had slave quarters consisting of 16 cabins with 50 slaves. Visitors are able to experience a closer look at the home life of enslaved men, women and children. Inside the cabin is a poignant setting of a slave family's sparsely furnished one-room abode. An inter-active exhibit entitled "A Peculiar Institution: An Exhibit of Slavery in the South," includes captivating songs of the slaves and pictures and artifacts that depict the journey of slaves from Africa, their lives on the plantation and their dreams of freedom. Plantation documents list the names of many of the slaves and their family members who worked the fields of tobacco, indigo, sugar cane and cotton.
Students who visit the plantation as a part of a school trip have the opportunity to take part in a program entitled "A Day in the Life of a Slave." In addition to studying the exhibit in the slave cabin, the students learn why slavery existed in America, about the economic history of the region and what daily hardships slaves endured on the plantation. A variety of daily chores are assigned to participating students who then take part in doing only some of the jobs that slaves did every day, such as laundry, grinding corn, deseeding and carding cotton, making bousillage, feeding birds and gathering wood.
Through these programs offered to all age groups, Magnolia Mound strives to shed light on the much maligned and often ignored population of the plantation. With research projects underway and constant investigation of cutting edge scholarly publications, Magnolia Mound Plantation is proud to dedicate resources to the body of knowledge surrounding slave life.