The Library is committed to expanding its collections, instruction, collaborations, and outreach in all areas related to Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. This page provides updates on Library initiatives in these areas.
New Database - The Georgetown community now has access to Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movements, part of Reveal Digital, which presents primary source documents of the civil rights activism of everyday citizens of Black, Latine, Indigenous and Asian American/Pacific Islander communities. When completed in 2025, the collection will include letters, general correspondence, logs, demonstration plan outlines, transportation logs and plans, meetings, worship services, photographs, newsletters, news reels, interviews and musical recordings.
John McElroy, SJ Papers and Paul and Anthony Kohlmann, SJ Papers Uploaded to Digital Georgetown - Digital Scholarship and Technical Services completed the digitization of the John McElroy, SJ Papers and Paul and Anthony Kohlmann, SJ Papers held by the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Digitized as part of the MPA extension project, both of these collections contain significant documentation of Jesuit enslavement.
Completion of the First Phase of the MPA Project - Digital Scholarship and Technical Services staff completed the digitization of all documents within the Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (MPA) that were created before 1900. The MPA documents the history of Jesuit enslavement from the establishment of the Maryland colony in 1634 through emancipation in 1864, the segregation of parishes, and racism within the Catholic Church. The collection is accessible through a finding aid developed by the staff of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections and on Digital Georgetown.
Papers of Individual Jesuits Uploaded to Digital Georgetown - Digital Scholarship and Technical Services staff completed the digitization of the papers of the following Jesuits held in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections: Stephen Dubuisson, SJ - William Feiner, SJ Collection, George Fenwick, SJ Papers, and Joseph Mosley, SJ Papers. Digitized as part of the MPA extension project, each of these collections include documentation of slavery in Maryland or Georgetown College.
Healy Family Featured in Exhibition - Staff of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections presented an exhibition on Patrick F. Healy, S.J., and his brothers in the spotlight case, adjacent to the Booth reception area. Children of a South Carolina planter Michael Healy and a woman enslaved by him Eliza, the Healy brothers passed as white and became leaders of the Catholic Church. As rector of Georgetown College between 1872 and 1882, Father Patrick Healy led Georgetown as it transformed into a modern university. The exhibition presented key documents from the Patrick Healy Papers, including newspaper stories from the 1950s and 1960s that explored the mixed racial ancestry of the Healy brothers which had never been publicly acknowledged.
Evaluation of On These Grounds - The On These Grounds project team invited GU272 Descendants, historians of the D.C. community, and other memory workers to a demonstration of the Georgetown test site. Participants used the test site to help with the evaluation of the site as a discovery tool for archival records of Jesuit enslavement.
On These Grounds Test Site Launched - Lauinger Library posted a site that presents data compiled by Georgetown librarians and students to implement the On These Grounds project. The site presents a limited number of records found in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections to assist with the evaluation of the descriptive model developed by the project team and the effectiveness of the site as a discovery tool and source of data. The Library will release a fuller site with additional data, improved display, and enhanced search functionality.
"Visions of Anti-Racist Futures" Exhibition in Community Gallery - Lauinger Library helped graduate students in the Learning, Design, and Technology program create an exhibition of artifacts that communicated their vision of anti-racist and equitable futures in higher education. The students created this art for a class "Critical Speculative Design for Anti-Racism in Higher Education," taught by Professor Ijeoma Njaka. The exhibition remained on display in the Community Gallery on the 4th floor of Lauinger until November 1, 2023.
In-person premiere of Here I Am - Mélisande Short-Colomb, GU272 descendant, performed Here I Am, a play written by her and produced by the GU Laboratory for Performance, in Gaston Hall on April 4 and April 12. The play, which premiered in 2021 on virtual platforms, is an autobiographical chronicle that explores her complicated relationship with Georgetown through narrative, imagery, and music. The April 12 performance included a screening of "I Am the Bridge," a documentary focused on her experience as a Georgetown student. Both works featured images and documents from the Maryland Province Archives, the University Archives, and the University Art Collection.
Black History Month exhibition - The Booth Family Center for Special Collections staff opened "The Mason Family of Maryland," which honored Louisa Mahoney Mason and her children, who were enslaved by the Jesuits until November 1864 when the state of Maryland enacted emancipation. Despite their enslavement, the Mason family remained within the Jesuit community and helped establish Black organizations in parishes ministered by Maryland Jesuits. The exhibition, located in the Booth spotlight case, featured a group portrait that included Louisa Mahoney Mason and her son Bob Mason and other documents of their family story.
Descendants of the Louisa Mahoney Mason created a remembrance ceremony to honor her and their other ancestors outside the exhibition.
Exhibition on the history of the Maryland Province - "From Mission to Social Justice: Four Centuries of the Maryland Province" opened in the Special Collections Gallery and Charles Marvin Fairchild Gallery on the fifth floor of Lauinger Library. The three-month exhibition explored the growth of the Maryland mission and province, its relationship to slavery, the persistent faith of Black people within segregated parishes, and the impact of Catholic social justice thought in these parishes. Artifacts included documentation of the establishment of slavery in Maryland, the 1838 sale, and the role of enslaved people at Georgetown College.
There were separate Curator's Talks given to the following audiences: the Georgetown Jesuit community, D.C. community historians and archivists and curators from local and national repositories, and members of the GU272 Descendant community. In addition, several professors required students to attend this exhibition and discuss its themes.
Article on MPA Digitization Project - Cassandra Berman, who prepared the Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (MPA) for digitization, wrote "Slavery's Archive: Confronting Jesuit Slaveholding at Georgetown University" for the American Historical Association's newsletter Perspectives on History (October 18, 2022). The article explores the significance of the MPA in documenting the history of enslavement and the importance of the digitization project in the reconciliation process.
Library Staff Present at the Universities Studying Slavery Conference - Mary Beth Corrigan, Cassandra Berman, and Theodore Mallison led a panel on the accessibility and the archives of slavery. Their presentations described how the new arrangement and description of the Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus addressed the goals of the Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Initiative by improving access to the records of slavery for students, faculty, and GU272 descendants.
The On These Grounds project team participated in plenary roundtable with institutional partners to discuss the implementation of the On These Grounds model with their records.
Extension of the Maryland Province Digitization Project - Jesuits East USA (successor organization of the Maryland Province) accepted the Library proposal to continue the digitization of records related to slavery and its legacies held by the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. The Processor of Jesuit Collections will identify the papers of individual Jesuits (members of the Maryland Province) that will support the study of slavery, segregation, and other forms of racism. The funding will enable Digital Services to hire a Digital Productions Assistant for Jesuit Collections.
Documentation of Enslavement by the Jesuits Uploaded to Digital Georgetown - Library staff uploaded documents from the Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (MPA), Subseries 2.1, Records of the Procurator, Subject files, 1633-1968. This subseries contains records related to the Province's finances, including legal documents on the founding of Jesuit plantations and the purchase and exploitation of enslaved people. Seminal documents related to the Maryland Province's sale in 1838, including the census identifying 272 people considered for sale and the mortgage agreements for the sale. These materials can be viewed and downloaded from Digital Georgetown and the finding aid.
New Database - The Georgetown community now has access to Proquest History Vault: Southern Life and African American History, 1775-1915, Plantation Records, Part III. NetID and password are required for access.
This database completes the Proquest History Vault: Southern Life and African American History, 1775-1915, Plantation Records, parts 1-3. Curated from manuscript collections across the nation, these records describe nearly every aspect of plantation life: business operations and day-to-day labor routines, family affairs, roles of women, racial attitudes, relations between enslavers and the people enslaved by them, social and cultural life, in addition to other sources of tension.
Plantation Records, Part 3, consists of records selected from the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill.
Librarians Participate in Working Group at National Council of Public History Meeting - The On These Grounds team organized a working group of archivists, librarians and historians to address the topic "Records, Repair, and Reckoning." The Georgetown team comprised of Emily Baldoni, Mary Beth Corrigan, and Anna Lacy addressed how standards in archival description, metadata and library instruction helped shape On These Grounds.
Exhibition marking D.C. Emancipation - The Booth Family Center for Special Collections commemorated the 160th anniversary of District Emancipation with an exhibition of documents in the lobby of Lauinger Library that explore the significance of the act that ended slavery at Georgetown College and its surrounding areas. Enacted on April 16, 1862, the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act freed more than 3,000 individuals bound to labor in the nation’s capital.
Slavery Documents Inspire Composer - Georgetown University Department of Performing Arts Assistant Professor commemorated the GU272 by composing "Requiem for the Enslaved," which was first performed at the Library of Congress in November 2021. A video published on the Spirit of Georgetown site discusses the inspiration for the piece, including documents on the 1838 sale and other aspects of Jesuit slaveholding which he encountered during research visits to the Booth Family Center for Special Collections.
Article on On These Grounds - Sasha Grimes wrote an article, "On These Grounds Builds Central Home for Scholarship of Universities Grappling with Legacies of Slavery," for the Library Journal (January 20, 2022) that described the Mellon-funded project. Grimes explained that the project was developing an archival description that centered upon the lives of enslaved people instead of enslavers.
Documentation of Enslavement by the Jesuits Uploaded to Digital Georgetown - Library staff uploaded documents from the Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (MPA), Subseries 1.1. Records of the Provincial -- Correspondence, Chronological 1805-1883, which includes correspondence related to the Jesuit plantations, 1838 sale, and evangelization efforts among Black people. This was a significant milestone in the completion of a project begun by Lauinger Library and the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus to digitize all documents within the MPA dated before 1900.
New Research Guide - The Booth Family Center for Special Collections has created a new research guide, Washington, D.C., History Resources. This guide is intended to help researchers interested in finding sources for short-term research projects, extensive digital projects, or substantial research papers and theses. Of particular interest to those researching issues relating to slavery in Washington, D.C., is the section on Slavery and Emancipation. In this section, researchers will find an introduction to slavery and emancipation in DC along with guidance on finding specific types of materials, including: Deeds related to Slavery and Freedom; Slavery Records created by the U.S. Circuit Courts; Slave Manifests filed in New Orleans; Records of the Commissioners of the Board of Emancipation, 1862-1863; and Digital Projects relating to slavery in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Researchers should also consult other areas of this new guide, particularly the sections devoted to the Booth Family Center for Special Collections; Manuscript Collections; Newspapers; Diaries, Memoirs, and Oral Histories.
Crowdsourced Database for Local Cemetery - Library staff helped design a database used by students of SHIP students in Andrew Davenport's "Black Georgetown Rediscovered" class. Students toured the Mt. Zion-Female Union Band Society Cemeteries, where approximately 9,000 Black residents were buried, and recorded the information found on headstones into the database. A report of this student experience appears on the Georgetown University website.
Presentation to LD4 - Emily Baldoni presented "Building and Testing the On These Grounds Model" to participants of the LD4 Conference. The LD4 Community is an open community that focuses on linking and using data on the Web to advance the mission, goals and objectives of libraries and archives.
Anti-Racism Toolkit Update - The Library has reorganized the Anti-Racism Toolkit to make it more useful for researchers. The toolkit is now organized topically, instead of by format, to make it easier for users to find information on specific subjects. It includes subjects such as civil rights, criminal justice, systemic racism in education, and medicine, as well as links to general interest books, guides at other universities, and key research databases.
New Exhibition and Blog Post - In honor of Juneteenth—the holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States—Library staff curated an exhibition in the lobby of Lauinger Library that highlighted materials from the manuscript, art, rare book, and archives from the Booth Family Center for Special Collections and Woodstock Theological Library. Staff also composed a blog post, Celebrating Juneteenth with the Library's Special Collections, to provide a deeper exploration of its holdings.
On These Grounds Webinar for Association of Southeastern Regional Librarians (ASERL) - With their partners from the University of Virginia and University of Michigan, Georgetown librarians contributed to a panel "On These Grounds -- Developing an Event Ontology and Resources Describing Enslaved Lives." Mary Beth Corrigan presented "On These Grounds: Collections as Data," and Emily Baldoni delivered "The On These Grounds Ontology: A Linked Open Data Model for Archival Collections related to Slavery."
Librarians Participate in the Chesapeake Digital Humanities Consortium (CDHC) Meeting - Mary Beth Corrigan, Emily Baldoni, and Adrian Vaagenes formed a panel "Using Digital Humanities Tools for Archival Description: the Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Initiative at Georgetown University." Corrigan and Baldoni discussed On These Grounds as reparative description using linked object data provided by Omeka S. Vaagenes discussed using Tableau to map the dispersal of Jesuits throughout the Maryland province and its missions.
Grant to Build Collections Relating to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Justice - The Library's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee is the recipient of a grant from the Library's Gladys Brooks Emerging Disciplines Fund to expand collections in areas relating to diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice. The Library's Gladys Brooks Emerging Disciplines Fund is funded by an award the Library received in 2013 from the Gladys Brooks Foundation to support collections related to emerging disciplines. Materials purchased with this grant will have a special focus on Anti-racism, Racial Justice, and Police Brutality. The preferred format will be e-books, due to the current limits on in person access to the physical library. For more information, please contact the Library's DEI Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Research Guide - The Booth Family Center for Special Collections has created a new research guide, Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation at Lauinger Library. This guide describes significant sources within the Art, Manuscripts, Rare Books, and University Archives units of Booth for scholarly research and public conversations about slavery and race. The collections created by the Maryland Jesuits warrant special consideration because of the legacy of their participation in slavery and their role in the Christianization of Black people. The work of Booth is ongoing and updates will be made to this guide as the assessments of existing collections, collecting initiatives, and digitization projects progress. The guide also links to Lauinger databases and digital projects led by Georgetown researchers and outside scholars. The digitized manuscript collections, computational data, and genealogical resources provided in these resources can help researchers answer questions about the experiences of the enslaved outside of Maryland and throughout the United States
New Database - The Georgetown community now has access to ProQuest History Vault: Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Law and Order in the 19th Century (1636-1880); NetID and password are required for access.
With digitized records from the Rhode Island Historical Society, UNC-Chapel Hill, and the National Archives, this collection contains business documents and legal correspondence dealing with the slave trade. The archive also includes some early letters received by the U.S. Attorney General, providing a window on citizen opinion in 19th century America.
This collection complements our existing History Vault modules on the history of slavery, including: Slavery in Antebellum Southern Industries, Slavery and the Law, and Southern Life and African American History via Plantations Records, Parts 1 and 2. These collections (and more) can be cross-searched through the main History Vault page.
Donation to Library Illustrates Life on Board a Slave Ship - A recent gift to the Georgetown University Library, now digitized and available online in DigitalGeorgetown, provides poignant and valuable insight into the Atlantic slave trade. Watch a video about the logbook and its preservation edited by student Yasmine Bouachri (C ’20) for the Spring 2020 AMST 272: Facing Georgetown's History class. Read more about the donation.
New Databases - The Georgetown community now has access to the following databases; NetID and password are required for access.
- African American Newspapers, Series 2, 1835-1956 (link includes both Series 1 and Series 2) - Provides online access to approximately 75 U.S. newspapers chronicling over a century of the African American experience. This unique collection features papers from more than 22 states and the District of Columbia—including many rare and historically significant 19th century titles.
- African Americans And Jim Crow: Repression & Protest, 1883-1922 - Sourced from the Library Company of Philadelphia's Afro-Americana Collection, African Americans and Jim Crow: Repression and Protest offers more than 1,000 fully searchable printed works critical for insight into African-American culture and life from the beginning of Jim Crow to World War I and beyond.
- Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia Created from the renowned holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia, this compelling collection offers more than 550 fully cataloged and searchable works by black authors from the Americas, Europe and Africa.
Library Receives Mellon Grant to Support Slavery Reconciliation Efforts - On These Grounds: Modeling and Sharing Archival Materials about Slavery, a collaboration among Michigan State University, Georgetown University Library, and the University of Virginia, has received a $550,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. On These Grounds will aid slavery reconciliation efforts by developing and testing a prototype linked open data model to better describe slavery-related archival materials and enhance the ability of scholars, students, alumni, and descendants to gain new insights and understanding of the lived reality of bondage at these institutions. Read more about the grant.
Walking Tour of the Georgetown Campus - The Booth Family Center for Special Collections in collaboration with Professor Adam Rothman, created a walking tour of sites on and around the Georgetown campus relating to slavery. View the tour: The Price of Georgetown: A Walking Tour of Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation at Georgetown University.
Exhibition on Slavery - Adam Rothman, professor of History and editor of the Georgetown Slavery Archive, curated an exhibition on slavery at Georgetown College. "Glimpses of Slavery at Georgetown College," presented in the Stephen Richard Kerbs Exhibit area, featured documents from the Georgetown University Archives and manuscripts unit of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections.