Rainville Named Founding Director of Tusculum Institute

| April 29, 2008

Lynn Rainville, who has served as an assistant professor of anthropology and archaeology at Sweet Briar College since 2001, was recently named founding director of the Tusculum Institute.

Her official title will be research professor in the humanities, and the position is effective July 1.

The Tusculum Institute will be born from the reconstruction of Tusculum, an 18th-century plantation that was the family home of Maria Antoinette Crawford, mother of SBC founder Indiana Fletcher Williams.

Sweet Briar became interested in acquiring Tusculum in 2003. Formerly situated a few miles north of the College in Amherst County, the home was to be demolished to make way for new construction.

In 2006, the wooden structure was dismantled by restoration experts and moved to storage to await reconstruction on Sweet Briar’s campus. It was officially purchased by the College a year later.

Around the same time, Sweet Briar also entered into a partnership with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which subsequently established a satellite office at the College.

The VDHR will assist in the rebuilding of Tusculum and will help the College to develop the Tusculum Institute as an educational resource for both Sweet Briar and the surrounding communities.

Rainville will serve a one-year term as founding director of the institute, reporting directly to College president Elisabeth Muhlenfeld.

According to a statement released by the president’s office, Rainville will “shape the scope and mission of the Tusculum Institute, create an advisory committee, develop a strategic plan for the Institute and generate inaugural programming that supports its strategic mission.”

In addition to her work at Sweet Briar and the University of Virginia — where she taught in 2001 and 2002 and was visiting scholar at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies from 2002 to 2007 — Rainville has conducted extensive research of African-American burial grounds in Central Virginia, including the plantation cemetery at Sweet Briar.

She also has worked on projects involving the Monacan Indians of Amherst County, including an exhibit co-curated with art galleries director Rebecca Massie-Lane titled, “Family Portraits: Virginian Indians at the Turn of the 20th Century.” The exhibit is currently on loan to several college campuses.

“Her work with the social and physical history of Sweet Briar’s campus and with plantation burial grounds and African-American communities … has led Lynn to establish ties to a number of local communities including the Monacan Indians in Amherst County, and has fueled her long-standing interest in public history,” the statement reads.

“Together, these research interests make her an ideal leader for this new enterprise.”

— Suzanne Ramsey

Category: Tusculum Institute