Descendants Project

About the Project

On June 19, 2020, Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site (VHP) in West Columbia received a grant from the 400 Years of African American History Commission in Washington, DC for a year-long project called The Brazoria County 1619 Descendants Project. The purpose of the project is to create a digital repository of at least 1,619 photographs, letters, recipes, diaries and more to document African American history in Brazoria County. The ultimate goal of the Descendants Project is to foster stronger connections with descendant communities throughout the region and to use items in the newly created collection in educational programs and interpretive spaces at VHP and other Texas Historical Commision (THC)-operated sites for long-term public benefit. Over the next year, community donors will be asked to bring artifacts to Varner-Hogg to be documented and returned to them on-site. One-hour appointments will be scheduled in three phases between September 2020 and June 2021.

The grant also provides funds for two internships in the Spring of 2021. Additional information about the internships will be forthcoming.

Volunteer Opportunity

Register here for Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 10 a.m. - In-person orientation at Varner-Hogg Plantation SHS
Register here for Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 2 p.m. - A virtual option through GoToMeeting for anyone unable to attend an in-person orientation.
Register here for Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 6 p.m. - In-person orientation at Varner-Hogg Plantation SHS

We are currently accepting applications from inviduals interested in helping to promote the project and to spend time with community donors completing paperwork and scanning artifacts. Collections volunteers will be essential in creating a welcoming environment for all community donors and successfully documenting artifacts under direction of site staff. You can find information about the volunteer position below. For more information, please contact Mark Osborne by email at or leave a message at 979-345-4656 ext. 31.

Please fill out a Volunteer Application Form and Texas Historical Commission Authorization and Consent for Disclosure of Criminal History Information form. Send the forms to Mark Osborne via email or drop off the forms at the Varner-Hogg Visitors Center, Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All public programs of the Texas Historical Commission and Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site are conducted without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, genetic information or disability.

Download a copy of the Collections Volunteer Position Description.

Collections Volunteer Information

- Accurately complete donor forms, including describing artifacts in writing.
- Properly handle, photograph, number, and store artifact materials under direction from site staff.
- Operate digital scanners and cameras.
- Follow all THC and VHP policies and procedures.

KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS NEEDED (Training will be provided.)
- Knowledge of or a desire to learn about the African American experience in Brazoria County and Texas; experience in museums or libraries; and customer service experience is highly advantageous.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
- Ability to follow verbal directions and to read and follow procedural manuals.
- Willingness to learn museum best practices.
- Enjoy working as part of a team and independently.
- Ability to print, copy, and scan documents.
- Ability to use a digital camera and download images.
- Proficiency in Microsoft desktop operating systems especially Word and Excel helpful.
- Good organizational skills and attention to detail.
- Must pass a background check.

This position is expected to take three hours a week, shifts are scheduled from Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. A commitment to volunteering at least 24 hours over the course of the project is appreciated. Collections volunteers are required to attend a two-hour orientation. 

Under the direction of site staff, volunteers are required to practice universal infection control precautions, including, but not limited to, a) wearing a mask at all times when in any building and/or interacting with site staff, volunteers and/or visitors; b) washing/sanitizing one’s hands before, during and after one’s shift; and c) maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet from fellow volunteers, site staff, and visitors. Additional guidelines and protocols will be covered in the required volunteer training.

While volunteering in this capacity, the volunteer may have to regularly bend down, stand up,  and occasionally, lift and/or move up to 25 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include color vision and close vision.

- Learn about and help preserve African American material culture and history in Brazoria County.
- Opportunity to develop new skills, especially, for those interested in careers in museums, archives and libraries.
- Working with a team of knowledgeable and dedicated people.
- After completing 25 hours of volunteer service, you will be entitled to unlimited free admission for you and one free visit for up to 2 guests each month.