As a boy in Franklin County, Virginia he was listed on the Burroughs Plantation ledger simply as 'Booker', and his value was indicated as $400. The Burroughs Plantation was small - only around 200 acres - and Burroughs and his sons worked side-by-side with their ten slaves. Booker's mother was an enslaved cook on the plantation, and his father was a white farmer who lived nearby. In 1865, after Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House, Union troops marched south and arrived at Burroughs Plantation. They assembled the enslaved community, read the Emancipation Proclamation to them and announced that they were now free.

Booker T. Washington National Monument Cabin

The Washington family's cabin is recreated at Booker T. Washington National Monument.

Booker's family subsequently moved to West Virginia, and there the young freedman worked at a salt mine while attending school. At the age of 16 Booker T. Washington walked and sometimes hitchhiked the 400 miles to Hampton, Virginia to apply to the new Hampton Institute for African-American students. With little or no money in his pocket, he slept on the ground and worked odd jobs in exchange for food. Washington later distinguished himself as a leading educator and principal founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama - a school for African Americans that he and his students built with their own hands. Tuskegee would include among its distinguished alumnae the botanist and inventor George Washington Carver and the famed Tuskegee Airmen bomber pilots of World War II.

Booker T. Washington National Monument Cabin Sam Hiking

Booker T. Washington's mother was an enslaved cook on the Burroughs Plantation. She kept her kitchen in the family's cabin.

Booker T. Washington National Monument Cabin Sam Hiking

Enslaved women tended the plantation's large vegetable garden.

Booker T. Washington National Monument preserves and interprets the early life of one of our nation's most distinguished educators. The park features a visitor center with a staffed park office, film, and gift shop. Hiking trails traverse the park and recreated Burroughs Plantation. The trails consist of mowed grass and gravel track, and are a little hilly in places. The Plantation Trail takes visitors through the recreated Burroughs Plantation including the Washington cabin, smokehouse, barn, blacksmith shed and tobacco barn. The trail features gardens and farm animals. The Jack-O-Lantern Branch Heritage Trail is a nature trail through habitat that was originally part of the Burroughs Plantation.

Booker T. Washington National Monument Burroughs Plantation

Visitors can walk through the recreated Burroughs Plantation.

Booker T. Washington National Monument Plantation Sheep

The plantation is home to sheep, cows and horses.

Pictured at the very top: The Booker T. Washington National Monument Park Headquarters and Visitor Center.

Historical Photo

booker t washington

Booker T. Washington sitting and holding books, 1903, Hampton Virginia  (Library of Congress)