About the Project
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 and Slavery Project investigates the University’s involvement with the institution of slavery. We invite you to explore the many stories and sources included here and to contact us with research, stories, and ideas of your own.
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News & Events
The New York Times, 11/6/17
Princeton University has a long history connected to slavery, which has remained hidden until now.
The Washington Post, 8/24/19
Aaron Burr Jr., third Vice President of the United States and son of Princeton president Aaron Burr Sr., fathered two children with a woman of color who worked as a servant in his home for several years.
The New York Times, 10/21/19
A New Jersey seminary has pledged to spend $27 million on scholarships and other initiatives to address its historical ties to slavery, in what appears to be the biggest effort of its kind.
The Washington Post, 11/18/19
The United States’ most elite universities continue to grapple with their historic ties to slavery.
James Collins Johnson: The Princeton Fugitive Slave
James Collins Johnson, a fugitive slave freed after an 1843 trial in Princeton, became a prominent figure in town and on campus over the course of his many decades working at the College of New Jersey.
Princeton's Slaveholding Presidents
Princeton’s first nine presidents all owned slaves at some point in their lives. Though widely considered to be forward-thinking religious, intellectual, and political leaders in the 18th and 19th centuries, they failed to align their practices with their ideals—embodying the tensions between liberty and slavery that characterized American life from the colonial period to the Civil War.
Facing Slavery: Princeton Family Stories
Facing Slavery: Princeton Family Stories is a 55 minute documentary written and edited by Melvin McCray (Class of 1974) and produced by McCray and Martha A. Sandweiss on the occasion of the Princeton & Slavery Project symposium in November 2017.
"Rev. I. W. L. Roundtree Has Risen From Slavery's Estate"
Newspaper article profiling I. W. L. Roundtree, a late-19th century Princeton graduate who was born a slave.