Jerome Meadows, Truths that Rise from the Roots Remembered, 1995, Alexandria, Virginia. Photo by Renée Ater.


  • Learning about commemorative works to the slave past for the first time?
  • Expanding your knowledge about memorials and the monument landscape to slavery?
  • Thinking about commissioning a memorial to the slave past in the present?
  • Creating a memorial to the slave past and want to see what is out there?

Contemporary Monuments to the Slave Past (CMSP) is a digital repository of commemorative works related to the slave past (monuments, memorials, and sites of slavery). It focuses on three-dimensional objects and built environments.* The term slave past covers the extended period of chattel slavery from the transatlantic slave trade and the Middle Passage to emancipation. Currently, the digital repository includes 117 commemorative works from West Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico, Brazil, Mexico, Europe, and the United States. As a public history site, CMSP highlights the ways in which artists and communities** are engaged in historical and visual conversations about how to talk about, acknowledge, remember, and memorialize the slave past.

Using the digital repository

CMSP allows you to explore a range of a commemorative works created by sculptors, architects, and designers. Learn about an individual monument or collection of monuments through individual records, descriptions, photography, geolocation data, and exhibits.

  • Use the "Artists" tab at the top of the page to view a list of artists in the digital repository.

  • Find memorials, monuments, and sites of slavery through the search bar at the top of the page or by selecting the "Items" tab.

  • Explore the fifteen collections by selecting the "Collections" tab. Each collection contains a short description and a group of "Items."

  • Locate the memorials, monuments, and sites of slavery through the "Map" tab. An updated Leaflet map with all the commemorative works on one map is forthcoming.

  • Engage the exhibits included in the digital repository through the "Exhibits" tab. Currently, two exhibits are included in the digital repository. The first exhibit is about memorials to Harriet Tubman, focusing on how artists and communities have mythologized her through public memorials and her role in the Underground Railroad. A new second exhibit focuses on 21st-century memorials to Black Civil War soldiers.

  • Learn more about the language of slavery adopted on this site, basic vocabulary for sculpture, and more through the "Resources" tab.

If you have questions about an item or wish to use a photograph from the database, please contact me at renee_ater@brown.edu.

Renée Ater, March 2024


*If you are looking for historical markers, visit The Historical Marker Database or check individual state governments for their state historical marker databases.

**I use the term "community" broadly to mean the range of people involved in the conceptualization, researching, commissioning, approving, funding, and/or maintaining a commemorative work. Communities include individual citizens, neighborhood associations, arts commissions, arts groups, cultural centers and museums, land developers, government agencies, and town/city, county, state, and/or federal employees.