Investigating a Poplar Forest Slave Cabin


Project Archaeology will transform your classroom into a community of student archaeologists who ask questions, make observations and support their inferences with evidence, analyze primary sources, relate culture to their own lives, and passionately share what they learn in a variety of ways.

Discover the past through evidence from an archaeological site in Virginia! In this investigation, students will use geography, history, and archaeology to learn about a slave cabin and the families who lived in it.

Examine illustrations, artifacts, and maps of a slave cabin located at Poplar Forest, one of Thomas Jefferson's plantations in Virginia. Students meet Gregory Jefferson, whose ancestors live and were enslaved at Poplar Forest, by reading a biography. Then they analyze historic records, "uncover" a real archaeological site, classify artifacts, and infer how the geographic area of Virginia shaped the slave cabin.

Explore the use of a slave cabin and the cultural correlations today.

  • Includes text by archaeologists and African American descendants
  • Supports Common Core State Standards
  • Incorporates authentic data for students to analyze

“They talk about 21st century skills being important in schools these days. Archaeology is a perfect way to teach kids how to think, how to look at things, and how to pull information from the world around them.” — Teacher Testimonial


“I have never learned about the history of my own ancestors in school before.” — Student, Washington, DC


BONUS! When you buy Investigating a Poplar Forest Slave Cabin you will also receive the essential companion products: Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter and access to online introductory videos.

  • sm-PRODUCT-IMAGESProject Archaeology: Investigating Shelter provides teachers and students with seven fundamental lessons on shelter and archaeology. With this pre-requisite, students are ready for Lesson Eight, an investigation of a shelter from the past, such as the Crow Plains Tipi. Finally, in Lesson Nine of Investigating Shelter students learn the enduring understanding that stewardship of archaeological sites and artifacts is everyone’s responsibility. Taught together, Investigating Shelter and “Investigating a Poplar Forest Slave Cabin” is a complete, comprehensive unit that truly allows for a deep understanding of shelter and archaeology. More information


    • Investigating Shelter videos are a professional development experience for educators in lieu of attending a Project Archaeology workshop. Watch Project Archaeology lessons in action! See a professional development workshop and a teacher guiding a 4th grade class through Investigating Shelter. Instructors model Understanding by Design and archaeological inquiry. Plus, see interviews with teachers and students! The videos are also available on our Teacher Page.
      1. Introduction – Why archaeology matters
      2. Investigating Shelter and Understanding by Design
      3. Lesson Two: By Our Houses You Will Know Us
      4. Lesson Four: Observation, Inference, and Evidence
      5. Lesson Six: Context Game
      6. Lesson Eight: Being an Archaeologist