Yale and Slavery in Historical Perspective conference, Oct. 28-30

  • Man with a broom and a basket
    Photograph of Yale “Sweep” – a term used to describe a staff member in custodial and administrative services, ca. 1865. Custodial and Administrative Services, Yale University, Photographs (RU 763). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.
October 7, 2021

“Yale and Slavery in Historical Perspective,” the 23rd annual conference of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, will be held online October 28-30. The three-day event will present the in-process research findings of the Yale and Slavery Working Group commissioned by President Peter Salovey in October of 2020 “to investigate Yale’s historic entanglements and associations with slavery, the slave trade, and abolition.”

The conference schedule includes a session on “Finding Slavery in the Archives” on Friday, Oct. 29, 3:15-4:45 pm, which will reveal and examine numerous findings from the group’s extensive archival work. Moderated by Crystal Feimster, associate professor of African American Studies, History and American Studies, the panel will focus on particular episodes, leaders, and themes of Yale’s involvements with slavery, abolition, and commemoration. The presentation will be framed by a discussion of contemporary archival practices and the challenges and possibilities of working through archival absences and biases.

Led by David Blight, Sterling Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies, and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center, the working group includes faculty, staff, librarians, and New Haven community members and draws on resources from across the university. The project’s student researchers have been examining and analyzing documents and materials in the archives and other research collections.

Working group members from Yale University Library are: Michael Lotstein, University archivist, Manuscripts and Archives; Michael Morand, director of communications, Beinecke Library; and Judith Schiff, chief research archivist, Manuscripts and Archives. Library collections are at the core of the working group’s research and are highlighted in many of the programs that have been held this year in advance of the conference.

Read more about the initiative and register for the conference, which will be held via Zoom, on the Yale and Slavery Research Project website.