The Princeton & Slavery Project

December 21, 2017
The Princeton & Slavery Project

The Princeton & Slavery Project, a scholarly investigation of the University’s involvement with the institution of slavery, launched its website and hosted a scholarly symposium in November 2017. The Project, which started five years ago as a small undergraduate seminar led by Professor Martha A. Sandweiss, has been praised as “one of the most ambitious investigations of an institution’s racial history.” Its interactive website ( has the equivalent of more than 800 printed pages, as well as more than 380 primary source documents. It also includes videos, interactive maps and graphs, and lesson plans.

The Princeton & Slavery Project explores the slave-holding practices of Princeton’s early trustees and faculty members, considers the impact of donations derived from the profits of slave labor, and looks at the broader culture of slavery in the state of New Jersey, which did not fully abolish slavery until 1865. It also documents the southern origins of many Princeton students during the ante-bellum period and considers how the presence of these southern students shaped campus conversations about politics and race.

The Princeton & Slavery Project involved a broad collaboration with the Princeton University Art Museum, McCarter Theatre, Princeton Public Library, and other groups on campus and in town.

Press about the Project:

“Princeton Digs Deep Into Its Fraught Racial History,” The New York Times, 11/6/17

“Putting the Ghosts of Princeton’s Racial Past Onstage,” The New York Times, 11/6/17

“Slaves in the Ivy League: Princeton Discovers Its Racial Past,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/6/2017

“Three Ways America’s Elite Universities Benefited from Slavery,” Time, 11/7/17

“A Contemporary Artist Is Helping Princeton Confront Its Ugly Past,” The Atlantic, 11/9/17

“Princeton’s Involvement with Slavery,” NPR, 11/12/17

“Princeton Confronts Its Slave-Owning Past with an ‘Anti-Monument,’” The Huffington Post, 11/28/17