Kathleen Grissom is the author of the historical novels Glory Over Everything and The Kitchen House, which are available for sale from CBS sister company, Simon & Schuster.
As an author of antebellum novels I am often asked where I do my research. Fortunately I live in Virginia where history seeps up from the soil, but when I wish to take myself back in time, or if I need specific information, I visit these historical sites. With each of these listed I have gone back many times until I’ve gleaned the information that my characters required.
These sites are all available to the public and if you, too, decide to visit, I am almost certain that you will feel the spirits of the past, as do I.
1542 Bateman Bridge Rd
Forest, VA 24551
This was once Thomas Jefferson’s country home and here he found a refuge from his busy life at Monticello. I understand the peace he must have experienced, for I feel it too whenever I walk around this beautiful estate.
101 Visitor Center Drive
Williamsburg, VA 2318
Walking along the cobbled streets of this reconstructed village, it is not difficult to imagine earlier times. This place is a treasure trove of information for any who are interested in experiencing a living history. Here I visited the Mad House, or the Hospital for the Insane, and came away with much information I needed to describe Miz Martha’s time there.
2294 US 17 North
South Mills, NC 27976
As I walked the trails and then boated down the canals, I wondered how desperate the escaped slaves must have been to come here in an attempt to live a free life. There is a wild magnificence in this swamp, but to live here must have been unimaginably difficult.
900 Old Salem Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Old Salem Museums And Gardens in Winston Salem, North Carolina, offers the experience of what it must have been like to live and work in the old South. Here the Silver shop alone was an invaluable resource for me.
931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy
Charlottesville, VA 22902
As you tour this home, set high atop a mountain, it is not difficult to imagine the privileged life that Thomas Jefferson lived. However, as you walk the plantation street of Mulberry Row, you will also learn about the realities of his enslaved servants.