Behind the Big House, a program that explores extant slave dwellings beyond historic homes, will be presented at the Historic Arkansas Museum at Little Rock on Friday and Saturday, March 29-30. The event is free and open to the public.

“The Behind the Big House program moves beyond the ‘Big Houses,’ or stately historic homes, to explore extant slave dwellings and interpret the experiences of the enslaved people who inhabited them,” according to a news release. “This workshop, held at Historic Arkansas Museum, will focus on foodways, researching the lives of enslaved Arkansans, and best practices for interpreting slavery at historic sites and museums.”

Preserve Arkansas, in partnership with the Arkansas Humanities Council, Black History Commission of Arkansas, Arkansas Archeological Survey, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, and Historic Arkansas Museum, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, are presenting the program, according to the release.

Registration is not necessary, but if people plan to spend the night on Friday, they must RSVP at so organizers may provide participants with additional instructions. Educators may receive three professional development credit/hours for participating in this event. This project is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The schedule of events include:

Friday, March 29 — Historic Arkansas Museum Grounds, 5:30 p.m. Behind the Big House and Preservation Libations. Participants will enjoy drinks provided by Preserve Arkansas and rotate through three stations on the museum’s grounds, sampling and learning about the cuisine of Arkansans enslaved during the antebellum period, according to the release.

Station 1. Gathering and Gardening during Slavery — Pulaski County Master Gardeners and James Rowe;

Station 2. Meet the Residents by Sampling Antebellum Scottish and Creole Food — Chef Joseph Brajcki and Felicia Richardson;

Station 3. Archeology of Foodways Behind the Big House — Jodi A. Barnes, Leon Tidwell, and Arkansas Archeological Society volunteers;

6:30 p.m. Otttenheimer Theater, Welcome, Stacy Hurst, Director, Department of Arkansas Heritage;

6:40 p.m. The ‘Big House’ as Home: African Americans, Slavery, and Roots Tourism in the United States; Jodi Skipper, University of Mississippi;

7:45 p.m. Fireside Chat: Slavery and Race in Arkansas; Joseph McGill, The Slave Dwelling Project, moderated by Kelly Houston Jones, Arkansas Tech University;

8:45 p.m. Sleep Tight, Historic Site — Joseph McGill and interested participants sleep in the Brownlee Kitchen and tents on the Museum Grounds. (Participants must email organizers at to register for the overnight stay.)

Saturday, March 30 — Historic Arkansas Museum & Butler Center for Arkansas Studies;

8:30 a.m. Registration, Coffee, and Pastries; Historic Arkansas Museum; 9 a.m. Welcome & Introductions;

Swannee Bennett, Historic Arkansas Museum; Carla Coleman, Black History Commission of Arkansas; Rachel Patton, Preserve Arkansas;

9:15 a.m. Saving Slave Houses: Ensuring a Place in the Historical Record for Historic Slave Houses and Their Inhabitants; Jobie Hill, Saving Slave Houses; 10:15 a.m. The Giving Voice Program: Researching Slavery at Historic Arkansas Museum; Felicia Richardson and Maggie Speck-Kern;

11:15 a.m. Walk to the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art;

11:30 a.m. Genealogy Workshop: Your Arkansas Connection and the Fruits of Your Tree; Rhonda Stewart, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.

Details: or 501-372-4757.