Columbia Releases Columbia University and Slavery Website

by | Jan 31, 2017

On January 30, University President Lee C. Bollinger hosted an event in Low Memorial Library for the release of Columbia University and Slavery, a website created by Columbia faculty, students, and the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) staff to present information about Columbia’s historic connections with the institution of slavery to the public.

The website, which has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and other media outlets, includes a wealth of material about the university and individuals connected with it, including primary sources, interviews with historians, and a preliminary report authored by Professor Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History.

Much of the website content was researched—and continues to be researched—by students from the Columbia University and Slavery class. At the January 30 event, Jordan Brewington, CC ’17, and Jared Odessky, CC ’15, discussed their research projects during a Q&A session. Credit: Eileen Barroso, University Photographer. 

After opening remarks, participants watched a video that provided an overview of the website and featured interviews with President Bollinger, Foner, and student researchers. “I think it’s very important for every institution to face its own history,” Bollinger said.

The CTL provided production, design, and project management support for the development of the website. Much of the content on the website was derived from student research in the Department of History’s Columbia University and Slavery class. The website includes videos of interviews with students and student-authored papers and online exhibits.

“We hope that this website, very much a work in progress, will contribute to public understanding of the key role slavery has played in our nation’s history and offer an example to other institutions of higher learning as they pursue their own investigations,” Foner said.

The class originated in the spring of 2015 in a seminar taught by Professor Foner and initiated with the cooperation of President Bollinger. It was continued in another seminar, directed by Professor Thai Jones, a year later.

The CTL has been a partner in subsequent semesters of the course, providing digital literacy instruction and technical and platform support. The next course will be taught by Professor Karl Jacoby in Spring 2016.

Related Projects
Discover more CTL-produced projects related to African American history:
Mapping the African American Past
Amistad Resource
Civil War and Reconstruction MOOC 

Related Links
Columbia University and Slavery
Office of the President
Columbia History Department