Dartmouth and Slavery Project Website Launches

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December 19, 2023
"Hoeing and Planting Cotton Seeds, South Carolina" from Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, 1880

"Hoeing and Planting Cotton Seeds, South Carolina" from Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, 1880

A Milestone for the Dartmouth and Slavery Project

This website is the culmination of nearly a decade of teaching and research that began with Professor Deborah King's course, "Lest We Forget: History, Collective Memory, and Slavery at Dartmouth," first taught in 2014.

The Dartmouth and Slavery Project is an ongoing collaboration between Professor Deborah King and Dartmouth Libraries' College Archivist and Records Manager Peter Carini. Following their supervision of a student-curated exhibition titled "The Ties That Bind" in 2019, the two recognized the imperative of deeply exploring Dartmouth's ties to slavery, the slave trade, colonization, and abolition. From inception, the Project's objective was to critically interrogate a public memory that celebrates the pine forests and mills dotting Dartmouth's New England landscape while erasing any connection to the transatlantic slave trade. 

Dean of Libraries Susanne Mehrer shared, "The 'Dartmouth and Slavery Project' contributes new knowledge and in-depth research to expand our understanding of Dartmouth's complex history and its founders. Through this Project, we will continue to open avenues for deeper research, elevate scholarship, and engage the Dartmouth community in dialogue about the institution and history of enslavement in this region."

In December 2022, the Project received its first institutional funding from the Division of Institutional Diversity & Equity. Thanks to that funding, Dartmouth Libraries completed and published the digital collection "Enslavement Documents from the Wheelock Collection" in April 2023.

"We are committed to supporting work that examines our institutional history," said Shontay Delalue, Senior Vice President and Senior Diversity Officer, who sponsored the Project through the Diversity Accelerator Fund. "Research that centers historical accountability allows our students and community to grapple with our imperfect past to make way for a better future."

Through their research, King and Carini have uncovered a more complete and accurate narrative of Dartmouth's past. Their findings:

  • disrupt the notion of a "free" North versus a "slave" South.
  • thoughtfully examine the lives of enslaved and free Black persons in New Hampshire and Connecticut.
  • critique complex attitudes toward slavery, emancipation, abolition, and colonization.
  • demonstrate how Dartmouth was complicit in and profited from the institution of slavery.

As King and Carini further delve into the archives and analyze Dartmouth's history, they will continue collaborating with library colleagues to add new content to the website as their research discoveries progress. The website will eventually document the institution's past through the end of the Civil War.

To learn more about this Project, contact Peter Carini or Deborah King. 

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