Georgetown Slavery Archives- An Attempt at Memory and Reconciliation

 Georgetown University’s Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation initiative launched the Georgetown Slavery Archives in 2016, using the archives of the Jesuit university to educate, make reparations and acknowledge the labor and impact that African American slaves played in the creation and success of the institution. Through the work of the Maryland Province Archives of the Society of Jesus, the Booth Family Center for Special Collections, the Georgetown University Library, the archive is published with the permission of the Maryland Province Jesuits.

Presenting these Colassal Archives

Through the implementation of:

  • A Gallery
  • Maps
  • Podcasts and Videos
  • Lesson Plans for Educational Purposes
  • Archival Inventory of slave sales, marriage registers, death records, and more

the Georgetown Slavery Archive has created a diverse selection of ways to ingest information of all kinds. There is even inclusion of a search bar that allows users to search for things like names and dates, querying the archives to give fast access to information not so easily found through the site’s button navigation. The images below were found by exploring the ‘featured’ items on the home page.

Frank Campbell, a slave apart of a group sold by the Maryland Jesuits in 1838, is pictured above. The photos are included in a scrapbook from the early 1900s that belonged to Robert Ruffin Barrow, Jr., which is held at Ellender Memorial Library, Nicholls State University. 

Frank Campbell was the son of Watt and Theresa Campbell. He is listed as one year old in an 1821 tax assessment for St. Inigoes, twelve years old in an 1831 tax assessment for St. Inigoes, and twenty years old in the 1838 Articles of Agreement. He married Mary Jane Mahoney, who was also sold in 1838. The younger daughter in the photographs has been identified as Frank Campbell’s granddaughter, Mary Jane.

The story of the discovery of Frank Campbell’s photographs was published in the New York Times on March 12, 2017

What Now?

Even after 4 years, the archive is a work in progress, continuing to update its website as new information is gathered from the aforementioned archives and through the information brought by families and descendants involved with Georgetown throughout its storied history.

Alongside the creation of these archives, Georgetown and the Jesuits of the US have created a “truth and reconciliation effort” attempting to benefit the descendants of slaves. While intentions are pure, many descendants have expressed unhappiness in the lack of research done to find the desires of the community as a whole.

Image Citation:

Spooky Nuggets

One Comment

  1. Well-written post. Projects like this are important for educating the public and remembering, and studying, this country’s past injustices to address the current ones. What are your thoughts on the descendants’ unhappiness? What can the creators of the project do to address these concerns? This is a sensitive project so the creators should probably address these concerns.

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