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, 6/27/20
University trustees concluded that Wilson’s “racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college."
The New York Times, 5/12/20
Nicholas Johnson, who was named valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020, called the achievement especially significant, given the school’s struggle in recent years to confront its troubled history with slavery.
The New York Times, 11/6/17
Princeton University has a long history connected to slavery, which has remained hidden until now.
Jonathan Edwards Jr.
Jonathan Edwards Jr. (1746-1801), the son of early America’s preeminent theologian and Princeton’s third president, strongly opposed slavery throughout his life and career as a minister—becoming a leading antislavery activist of the 18th century and one of the few abolitionists Princeton ever produced.
Joseph Henry and Sam Parker
Joseph Henry spent fourteen years at the College of New Jersey, serving as Chair of Natural History between 1832 and 1846. Sam Parker, his assistant, was a free black man.
Destiny Salter (Class of 2020)
A Princeton & Slavery Oral History by Christo Ritter (Class of 2020), produced in conjunction with the freshman seminar Princeton, Slavery and Historical Memory (Fall 2016).
Estate Inventory of John Maclean Sr.
Inventory from the estate of John Maclean Sr., listing two slaves, a "Negro Girl Sal" and "Negro Boy Charles."