Geneva Smith

Graduate Student

Geneva is a Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellow for the 2023-24 academic year. As a PhD Candidate in Princeton's History Department and a JD Candidate at Yale Law School, her dissertation, “Slave Courts and Compensation in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic” examines slave courts, or courts that exclusively tried the crimes of enslaved people in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Creating an archive of newly discovered slave court records from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Jamaica, the dissertation asks how the compensation paid to enslavers for their executed enslaved people shaped the political economy of Atlantic slave markets and racialized the development of American criminal defense rights. Her work has been supported by the Max-Planck Institute for Legal History, the American Society for Legal History, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the New-York Historical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and Yale Law School.

Prior to coming to Princeton, Geneva received her BA from Columbia University. After graduation, she worked at the New-York Historical Society. During her time at Princeton, she worked on the Princeton and Slavery Project, coordinated the Colonial Americas Workshop and participated in the Black Graduate Student Caucus as well as the Graduate Women of Color Caucus. At Yale Law School, she was the Academics Chair of Yale Law Women+, the Academic Development Chair of the Yale Black Law Students Association, and a Fellow in the Program for Reproductive Justice and Reproductive Rights. 

Year of Study
Sixth Year
Area of Interest
(In alphabetical order)
African American
Criminality and Criminal Justice
Gender & Sexuality
Legal History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
17th & 18th Centuries
19th Century
American South
Latin America and the Caribbean
North America