Skip to main content
Get your Wikispaces Classroom now:
the easiest way to manage your class.
Pages and Files
Harvard College and Slavery
"Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History" website with videos and a publication based on student research in History Seminars 84g and 1656:
"Slavery Ties Left Unexplored: Harvard Crimson, April 25, 2008.:
Beneath the Ivy, a Legacy of Chains. Harvard Crimson, October 27, 2006.
Seminar Studies Slave Ties. Harvard Crimson:
Eric Johnson, What Harvard Law Owes to Slaves: Black Issues in Higher Education, 2001:
see also this posting, with extensive comments, at:
"Benjamin Wadsworth, Class of 1690, brought two slaves to his new residence—Wadsworth House—when he became Harvard’s president in 1725. " See Diary in Harvard University Archives:
Issac Royall and The Royall House Slaves
The slave-based fortune of Issac Royall played a significant (if indirect) role in the initial funding of the first professorship of law at Harvard.
Alexandra A. Chan, The Slaves of Colonial New England: Discourses of Colonialism and Identity at the Isaac Royall House, Medford, Massachusetts, 1735-1755 (2003) (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University)
Janet Halley, My Isaac Royall Legacy (Inaugural addres) Harvard Blackletter Law Journal 24, pp. 117-131
Download PDF via;
See materials on the Royall House slaves at:
Belinda Royall's petition:
Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North
(Princeton University Press, 2010) Discuss the Isaac Royall case. Summary:
Louis Agassiz, "Separate Creation" and Slavery
Agassiz commissioned daguerreotypes of African-born enslaved persons on South Carolina plantations. His theory of separate creation was cited approvingly by pro-slavery advocates. The images are held in the Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.
The enslaved persons--known as Delia Jack, Fannesa and Renty--were photographed by Joseph T. Zealy, Some images accessible via the Peabody site search page at
and enter 35-5-10 in the box, clicking on "Contains".
Faces of Slavery. American Heritage, 1977.
Brian Walli. Black Bodies, White Science: Louis Agassiz's Slave Daguerreotypes. American Art, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Summer, 1995), pp. 39-61
Some of the Peabody images were re-appropriated by Carrie Mae Weems in her 1995 art project, "From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried"
The Soledad /Atkins Plantation in Cuba
Harvard was involved in the Soledad plantation (near Cienfuegos, Cuba) from c. 1910 up until the Cuban Revolution, through the Harvard Botanical Garden and related initiatives. Former enslaved laborers on the plantation evidently came in contact with Harvard faculty advising on sugarcane cultivation.
The Atkins Family in Cuba (Massachusetts Historical Society on line exhibition)
Harvard Botanical Garden at Soledad, Cuba. Harvard Crimson, May 31, 1928:
Cienfuegos Botanical Garden (originally, The Harvard Botanic Station for Tropical Research and Sugar Cane Investigation; renamed the Atkins Institution of the Arnold Arboretum)
Harvard relations with Cienfuegos archives:
Students in Rosalind Shaw (Tufts) course on "Memories of the Slave Trade" (Spring 2002) research and curated an exhibition on the Royall House slaves. See:
Sven Beckert. Research seminar History 84G on Slavery at Harvard, Fall 2009.
Students in Mark Auslander's "
Power and Aesthetics in Africa and the Diaspora"
(AAAS, Harvard) in Spring 2010 are exploring how narratives of enslavement associated with Harvard are represented and might be commemorate. They are giving particular attention to researching and honoring women of color across three centuries of Harvard's history, in slavery and freedom.
Cambridge Historical Society, Special Collections
Cambridge African American Historic Trail
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"