A number of higher education and cultural heritage institutions have made efforts to broaden our understandings of the history of slavery in all of its dimensions. We wish to acknowledge the work that has preceded our own efforts at the UVA Law Library, and we invite you to explore the list of projects on slavery and higher education below. American universities began institutionalizing efforts to research their involvement with slavery in 2003 when Ruth J. Simmons, then-President of Brown University, created Brown’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice (SCSJ). In the two decades since, over fifty major institutions both in the United States and Europe have become members of the Universities Studying Slavery (USS) Consortium, including the University of Virginia. Of the fifty-three institutions in the USS Consortium (as of May 2019) roughly half of them have organized online research portals to present their efforts. We have highlighted several of those initiatives below, but a comprehensive list can be found on the USS Consortium website. This list is intended to be representative, but not exhaustive.
UVA is now a part of “On These Grounds,” a Mellon-funded cross-university digital initiative that will facilitate research into the lives of the enslaved and the history of slavery in higher education.
University of Virginia
- Jefferson’s University...The Early Life (JUEL)
- President’s Commission on Slavery and the University
- On These Grounds
(in partnership with Michigan State University, Georgetown University, and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media)
Descendants of the Enslaved Communities at the University of Virginia
The College of William & Mary
- Harvard & The Legacy of Slavery
(Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study)
- Harvard & Slavery: Seeking A Forgotten History
Virginia Center for Digital History
Monticello and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation
For further reading on slavery and higher education, we recommend the following as a starting point:
- Alfred L. Brophy, University, Court, and Slave: Pro-Slavery Thought In Southern Colleges and Courts, and the Coming of Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016)
- Educated in Tyranny: Slavery at Thomas Jefferson’s University, eds. Maurie D. McInnis and Louis P. Nelson (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019)
- Craig Steven Wilder, Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013)
For a reference on writing and teaching about slavery, we recommend this community-sourced document assembled by senior scholars of slavery:
- P. Gabrielle Foreman, et al. “Writing about Slavery/Teaching About Slavery: This Might Help” community-sourced document, May 29, 2019, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1A4TEdDgYslX-hlKezLodMIM71My3KTN0zxRv0IQTOQs/mobilebasic.