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View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation at Lauinger Library

This guide highlights the primary source documents at Lauinger Library that supports the goals of Georgetown University's Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Initiative.

University Archives - Introduction

The Georgetown University Archives is the repository of the institutional records of the University. These documents have helped faculty, students, and descendants to explore the role of the enslaved people on campus and the finances of slavery on campus. In addition, staff has helped researchers learn more about the intellectual debates on campus, the Jesuit administrators and instructors who played a decisive role in the sale of 1838, and the role that slavery played in Georgetown's history.

Some materials held in University Archives can help members of the Georgetown community understand the racial attitudes of administrators, faculty, and students; the opportunities provided to Black people to attend and participate fully in the community at Georgetown; and the University's relationship to the people of Washington, D.C. Researchers are also encouraged to explore descriptions of other records in the University Archives through the Georgetown Archival Resources site. 

Slavery and Georgetown

Georgetown College Financial Records: Vault Collection 

Span dates: 1791-1950

Extent: 22.00 Linear Feet

Finding aid: Georgetown College Financial Records: Vault Collection

Digital Georgetown: Georgetown College Financial Records

Most of the information relating to the relationship of Georgetown College to the institution of slavery which has been identified in the University Archives is found in the Georgetown College Financial Records: Vault Collection. This collection of over 200 volumes details the business affairs of Georgetown College in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.

The transactions in these records document the College's participation in urban slavery, including the ownership of enslaved people, either acquired by purchase or transfer; slave provisions; the hiring of enslaved people for specific tasks or terms with wages usually paid to their owners; and wages paid to free Blacks. Even after the Maryland Jesuits sold the enslaved people they held in 1838, Georgetown College continued to utilize enslaved labor, in part by paying local slaveholders and hiring the men and women they held. The last enslaved person to work on campus appears to have been Aaron Edmonson who left in March 1862, just weeks before President Abraham Lincoln signed the District Compensated Emancipation Act, which provided for the freedom of all enslaved people working in the District and compensated loyal slave owners for the loss of their property.  An entry related to Edmonson is found in I.A.2.e, [Journal G?], May 18, 1838 - January 15, 1840, 1852 – 1875.

It is possible to identify volumes that include transactions involving enslaved people by using a keyword search for term “enslaved” on both the finding aid and Digital Georgetown.

 

Philodemic Society Archives

Span dates: 1830-onward

Extent: 19 boxes, 12 linear feet

Digital Georgetown: The Philodemic Society Archives

Georgetown’s debate society, the Philodemic Society, was founded in 1830.  A survey of debate topics and the results of those debates, both of which are listed in the volumes of proceedings (known as amanuensis books), highlight student attitudes on a variety of issues of national import, including slavery.  The Society’s archives are filed chronologically.  The first two amanuensis books have been digitized and can be viewed via Digital Georgetown.  Researchers should note that the Society continued to debate issues related to race and the legacy of slavery after the end of the Civil War.

 

Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation: Reference Collection

Span Dates: 2014-2016.

Extent: 1 box, 0.5 linear feet

Finding aid: Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation: Reference Collection

This collection includes the final report entitled Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation to the President of Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University, 2016), as well as print-outs of press coverage of issues surrounding Georgetown University and slavery, Jesuits and slavery, and the release of the report.

Race and Student Publications at Georgetown

Researchers interested in studying the legacy of slavery and impact of race on everyday student life, administrative decisions, and student entertainment, athletics, and other aspects of culture can begin their work by exploring the campus newspapers, Georgetown College Journal and The Hoya. The digitized copies of these texts can be searched by date and keyword to learn more about student experiences and attitudes towards campus, local, and national events.  These newspapers can help students identify important events, key figures, and most important chronology that will enable them to explore the collections held by the University Archives.  

 

Georgetown College Journal

Date span: 1872-1920 

Digital Georgetown: Georgetown College Journal, 1872-1920

The College Journal was the first printed newspaper produced by Georgetown students. A monthly publication, it is a combination of student newspaper, literary publication, and alumni bulletin. The printing of letters and reminiscences from “Old Boys” extends its coverage of campus life and events to well before the Civil War. Athletics received extensive coverage, with recurring Athletics notes that provided rosters and scores beginning in the late 1880s. Musical and dramatic performances by students or visiting groups are given regular coverage in its pages.

Physical volumes are available for use in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Digitized issues can be browsed and searched via Digital Georgetown

 

The Hoya Archives

Span: 1920-present

Digital Georgetown: The Hoya Archives, 1920-1940; 1959-1980; digitized copies also available on The Hoya site, September 1998-present

Since 1920, The Hoya has been the student newspaper of record that reported on campus news, including administrative decisions, cultural and athletic events, and student activities. It is a good source for changing student perspectives over time, including their reaction to national and local events, their participation in social movements, and the intellectual and political debates on campus.

Physical volumes are available for use in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. The Hoya back issues dated 1920-1940 and 1959-1980 have been digitized. Check the site maintained by the staff of The Hoya for more back issues dated after September 1998.

 

The Georgetown Voice

Span: 1969-present

Digitized copies available on The Georgetown Voice site, January 2001-present

Founding in 1969, The Voice was founded to expand upon the coverage that The Hoya provided on the Vietnam War and other social and political issues. The Voice's features tend to be more in-depth with cultural commentary than the articles covering everyday life in The Hoya.

Physical volumes are available in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. The Georgetown Voice back issues dated after January 2001 are available on its site.

Blackface at Georgetown

As on other college campuses, students at Georgetown engaged in blackface minstrelsy. Important resources can be found in the following collections on music, drama, and performance.

 

Georgetown University Musical Groups

Span dates: 1850s-1971

Extent: 6 boxes, 3 Linear Feet

Finding Aid: Old Archives: Georgetown University Music, GTA-000275-DS

Filed chronologically, these records consist of programs, tickets, invitations, correspondence, clippings, etc. relating to activities of/performances by student musical groups. The collection also includes programs, tickets, dance cards from student proms and dances. 

 

Mask and Bauble Club

Span dates: 1853-1971

Extent: 5 boxes, 4.25 Linear Feet

Finding Aid: Old Archives: Dramatic Association/Mask and Bauble Club, GTA-000314

Filed chronologically, these records consist of programs, clippings, correspondence, scripts, etc. related to dramatic performances at Georgetown.

 

  • In 2019, undergraduate student Marcus Lustig explored the prevalence of blackface and minstrelsy at Georgetown College by studying the Georgetown College Journal and University Archives collections of programs, newsclippings, and other ephemera that documented musical programs and plays performed by students. Lustig's 2019 history honors thesis, Blacking Up the Ivory Tower: Blackface Minstrelsy in College Life at Georgetown, provides a complete bibliography and annotations.

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