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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.

Digital Projects -- Jesuit Slaveholding and Slavery at Georgetown

Georgetown Slavery Archive

This digital repository of materials documents the relationship of the Maryland Jesuits and Georgetown University to slavery. The project was initiated in February 2016 by the Archives Subgroup of the Georgetown University Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. Its editors and research assistants have surveyed primary sources held at Booth Family Center for Special Collections and other repositories to select pertinent documents for inclusion in this collection. The documents are transcribed and, if necessary, translated into English. Often, they are posted with supplementary information that can help contextualize a document.

The Georgetown Slavery Archive has also accepted materials from descendants of those enslaved by the Jesuits and the class projects of students, including podcasts and documentary videos that explore the legacy of slavery at Georgetown. It also provides recommendations for readings and lesson plans for secondary school teachers. 

Dr. Adam Rothman, Director of Georgetown Center for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies, serves as its Curator. Elsa Barazza Mendoza, Ph.D., previously served as its Assistant Curator.

Life and Labor under Slavery: the Jesuit Plantation Project 

A project derived from the Jesuit Plantation Project developed by Georgetown's American Studies department, Dr. Sharon M. Leon, Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University, surveyed the Archives of the Maryland Province, the Georgetown University Archives, and other records to create a database on those enslaved by the Jesuits. For each case of an enslaved or free Black person in the records, Leon recorded the place, relationships, date, event, and other information to create a linked data set and visualizations to learn more about the slave families and communities on the Jesuit plantations. 

The Price of Georgetown: A Walking Tour of Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation

This site provides maps of the Georgetown campus with vivid illustrations of the various sites connected to Georgetown's history of enslavement. This walking tour provides information on the people memorialized on campus, student activities associated with slavery, and places now associated with reconciliation.

Still, We Speak

Archaeological studies led by Laura Masur, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Archaeology at The Catholic University of America, have produced rich documentation of the Catholic missions and plantations established by Jesuit missionaries during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. GU272 Descendants have collaborated with her during her field work. This site includes richly-illustrated maps of the Jesuit plantations, guides to oral histories of St. Mary's County residents taken by the Unified Committee of Afro-American Contributions, lesson plans for elementary and high school students, news, and events.

On These Grounds: Slavery and the University


This project is building a shared method of collecting, organizing and describing historical data from universities whose students and faculty are exploring their historical roles in the injustices of slavery. A team of archivists and historians from Georgetown University, Michigan State University and the University of Virginia will identify records of events involving the enslaved that include transactions such as sales and hiring out; life course events such as births and deaths; and violence and abuse. The team has created a descriptive model to provide a common method for universities that are now examining their historic role in perpetuating slavery to collect, organize, and describe data held in their rich archival holdings. Instead of centering description on the creators of documents, this method places enslaved people at center by describing the events involving enslaved people.

The Omeka team at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is also collaborating on this project. Dr. Sharon M. Leon, director of the Omeka  serves as the Principal Investigator. Other institutional partners include Hampden-Sydney College, Sydney, Virginia; Rutgers University, New Brunswick; University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Virginia; and University of Georgia, Athens.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided a $550,000 grant to support this project from July 2020 through June 2023. During this period, the project team created a controlled vocabulary that will be further developed as the project proceeds. The project uses Omeka S because it enables users to craft a database using linked object data that will enable users to organize information and make connections between slaveholding institutions.

Aggregate Site

Each of the universities participating in the project used the model to describe a limited number of documents that included evidence of events that involved enslaved people. With the appropriate documentation, they also created person and location records to strengthen their description that will enable users to make connections between institutions, municipalities, and other jurisdictions. 

Georgetown test site

The project team at Georgetown has posted its test site which includes records for 362 events, 305 people, and 29 locations. The test site is fully searchable and includes event descriptions that are linked to individual persons and locations and the documentary sources in digital format.  Users are invited to explore the site and provide feedback. During the coming months, the site will be expanded to include other documents.

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