For almost 300 years, African Americans lived and worked at the Northampton Plantation. From the late 1600s to the mid-1800s, large tobacco plantations dominated the economic and social life of Prince George's County, Maryland. In 1673, Charles Calvert, Esq., the third Lord Baltimore, granted a 1,000-acre tract of land to Thomas Sprigg. Named Northampton, the plantation was home to the Sprigg family and their slaves and servants for nearly 200 years. In 1865 John Contee Fairfax purchased Northampton, which served as a working farm until the 1950s.
Extensive archaeological excavations, artifact analysis, historic documents, and oral histories have allowed archaeologists to learn about the lives of slaves and tenant farmers at the plantation. Numerous descendants of the enslaved African Americans who lived at Northampton still reside in Prince George's County and have provided valuable information about life on the plantation and farm.
Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of artifacts from the slave quarters. Pieces of pottery, animal bones, buttons, glass bottles, tobacco pipes, religious medals, and toys have provided archaeologists valuable information about the social and religious life of African Americans who lived and worked at Northampton as slaves and tenant farmers.