Ivy League Institutions and the Legacy of Slavery

Harvard University

On April 26, 2022, Harvard President Larry Bacow released the Report of the Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery, accepted the committee’s recommendations in full, and announced a historic commitment of $100 million to fund their implementation.

A Short Film Introduction to Harvard’s Entanglements with Slavery

This short film offers an introduction to the first phase of the initiative’s work—the history—and is intended to be presented in the context of the committee’s recommendations for action.

Slavery in New England began when early colonists enslaved and sold Indigenous people, dispossessing them from the land.

Harvard was important to the region’s politics, society, and economy, and as slavery formed the basis of New England’s economic life, so it shaped Harvard.

There’s no separation from the world. There’s no place outside of history.

Princeton & Slavery Project: Holding the Center

By Martha A. Sandweiss and Craig Hollander

Princeton University, founded as the College of New Jersey in 1746, exemplifies the central paradox of American history. From the start, liberty and slavery were intertwined.

The Princeton & Slavery Project investigates the University’s involvement with the institution of slavery. It 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.

Local Advertisement

Two Women, a Man, and Three Children: An advertisement announcing the estate sale of President Samuel Finley, held at the President’s House on campus.
July 31, 1776.

Article: Two Women, a Man and Three Children, July 31, 1776

Columbia University and Slavery

“Columbia University and Slavery” is a website created by faculty, students, and staff to publicly present information about Columbia’s historical connections to the institution of slavery.

Drawing on papers written by students in a seminar Professor Eric Foner directed in the spring of 2015 and another directed by Thai Jo­­­nes in the spring of 2016, all of which will soon be posted on this website, as well as Professor Foner’s research and relevant secondary sources. This report summarizes Columbia’s connections with slavery and with antislavery movements from the founding of King’s College to the end of the Civil War.  

Pulitzer Prize-winning History Professor Eric Foner: Preliminary Report

This report summarizes Columbia’s connections with slavery and with antislavery movements from the founding of King’s College to the end of the Civil War.  Significant gaps remain in our knowledge, and investigations into the subject, as well as into the racial history of the university after 1865, will continue.

MIT’s Connections to Slavery 

New research from an MIT history class scholars and administrators is designed to examine the legacy of slavery in relationship to the university. Findings show founder William Barton Rogers possessed enslaved persons in his Virginia household until the early 1850s before founding MIT.

“Our founder was a slave owner,” says Craig Steven Wilder

Barton L. Weller Professor of History at MIT and a leading expert on the links between universities and slavery. Given how often such institutions drew personnel and material support from wealthy families that had profited from slavery, “people shouldn’t be surprised that MIT has these connections,” Wilder notes.

%d bloggers like this: