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 & Slavery Project investigates the University’s involvement with the institution of slavery and ongoing legacies of institutional racism. 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, 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 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, 11/6/17
Princeton University has a long history connected to slavery, which has remained hidden until now.
Princeton and the Colonization Movement
Founded and supported by 19th-century Princeton alumni, the American Colonization Society promoted the repatriation of freed slaves to a colony in Africa. Ultimately, however, colonization was more of an intellectual movement for moderately antislavery whites than a practical option for free blacks.
Moses Taylor Pyne and the Sugar Plantations of the Americas
The financial contributions of Moses Taylor Pyne (class of 1877), one of Princeton's most prominent benefactors, reveal the complex relationship between Princeton, the American sugar trade, and the slave economy.
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.
Letter from John Witherspoon Woods
Letter from John Witherspoon Woods (class of 1837) to his mother, describing a student-led attack against an abolitionist.