Category: University News

Title: Georgetown Community Marks 160th Emancipation Day Anniversary

Preserving History and Memory

Led by the Booth Family Center for Special Collections and the Georgetown Slavery Archive (GSA), members of the Georgetown community have several opportunities to mark Emancipation Day.

An exhibition of documents that explore the significance of the act that ended slavery in the city is available in the Lauinger Library lobby April 12–20. Booth staff will be at the exhibition site to discuss the rare documents on display and respond to questions noon-2 p.m. on April 14 and 18.

“We are hopeful that this exhibition triggers discussion about the legacy of emancipation, the persistence of racism and the ongoing struggle for social and civil equality,” says Corrigan, chief curator of the exhibition.

Hosted by the GSA, community members can transcribe historical documents for digitization on April 27 to help collect information on the generation of people freed by the 1862 DC Compensated Emancipation Act. Volunteers will record information drawn from the petitions for compensation submitted by owners of enslaved people freed by the act. Interested participants can RSVP via the GSA contact page.

‘Facing Georgetown’s History’

On April 19, The Booth Family Center for Special Collections will host a launch event for the new book Facing Georgetown’s History: A Reader on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, edited by Adam Rothman, professor of history, and Elsa Barraza Mendoza (G’21), assistant professor of history at Middlebury College. Rothman is curator of the GSA and was a member of Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation in the 2015–16 academic year. Mendoza is associate curator of the GSA and received her Ph.D. in history from Georgetown in 2021.

“The purpose of this book launch event is to discuss effective instructional and learning strategies in how faculty and students can examine the school’s relationship to slavery,” says Keith Phelan Gorman, director of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. “The book launch event also helps to raise the issue of how the Georgetown community must face the legacy of slavery on campus and within the DC community.”

Every year since 2016, Georgetown has sponsored programs and events commemorating DC Emancipation Day and providing the campus and local community an opportunity to reflect on the university’s historical ties to slavery.

Last year, Georgetown commemorated Emancipation Day as the host of the Universities Studying Slavery (USS) Conference. Universities Studying Slavery is a consortium of 80 colleges and universities who gather twice a year to explore best practices and guiding principles about truth-telling projects addressing enslavement and racism in institutional histories.