Nationally Known Historian to Stay Overnight Where Dred and Harriet Scott Were Once Enslaved

For immediate release

Release dated: 
July 19, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137,
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, 

Nationally Known Historian to Stay Overnight Where Dred and Harriet Scott Were Once Enslaved

Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, will visit Historic Fort Snelling on August 4 to shed light on Minnesota’s legacy of slavery

Historic Fort Snelling staff are excited to welcome historian Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, to Minnesota on Saturday, Aug. 4. 

Started in 2010, the Slave Dwelling Project works to identify, preserve and share the stories of buildings that were once the homes of enslaved people. As part of his work, McGill often stays overnight in slave dwellings around the country. 

“Now that I have the attention of the public by sleeping in extant slave dwellings, it is time to deliver the message that the people who lived in these structures were not a footnote in American history,” McGill says on the Slave Dwelling Project website. 

To date, McGill has visited more than 90 slavery sites in over 18 states, and this trip marks his first visit to a Minnesota. At Historic Fort Snelling, he will stay overnight in a space where historians believe Dred and Harriet Scott once lived and worked during their enslavement: the lower level of the fort hospital. 

McGill’s visit is part of Historic Fort Snelling’s ongoing revitalization project to expand the stories told at the historic site, which kicked off with new daily programming and special events in summer 2018.

While many Minnesotans know about Fort Snelling’s long history as a military base, staff are working to raise awareness of lesser-known stories, like the fort’s relationship with slavery. In the 1820s and 1830s, an estimated 15-30 enslaved people, including Dred and Harriet Scott, lived and worked at the fort at any one time. Slavery persisted until just before Minnesota statehood in 1858.

During his visit, McGill will give a public presentation on the Slave Dwelling Project on Saturday, Aug. 4 from 2-3 p.m., and visitors can join a Slavery at Fort Snelling tour in the evening from 7-9 p.m. 

Media are welcome to attend the presentation and tour. Please contact Lauren Peck in advance to schedule interviews with McGill or Historic Fort Snelling staff throughout the weekend. 

About Historic Fort Snelling
Historic Fort Snelling is Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark. Located on Dakota homeland known as Bdote, the area has a human history spanning 10,000 years. Once the farthest outpost of the U.S. military, Fort Snelling was actively used from the 1820s through World War II. The site is located near the MSP airport at state Highways 5 and 55 overlooking the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. For more information, visit  

The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.