GU272 Memory Project Launches on JuneteenthBreaking News
tags: slavery, Georgetown, archives, Juneteenth, GU272
A Boston-based genealogical organization and a Georgetown University graduate who launched a project to trace the family histories of hundreds of black slaves sold by the Jesuits who ran the college in 1838 have teamed up to digitize the information and make it available to people researching family histories.
The public announcement Wednesday of what’s known as the GU272 Memory Project coincides not only with Juneteenth — the annual observance of the 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in America — but also with the anniversary of the 1838 sale of 272 of the more than 300 slaves the Washington, D.C., college sold over a five-year period.
American Ancestors, also known as the New England Historic Genealogical Society, has troves of genealogical information on its website, but the GU272 Project is unique, said Claire Vail, the project director.
“For this project, we said, ‘Let’s do something different and let’s talk to the living descendants,’ most of whom have … no family lore that stretched back to their enslaved ancestors,” she said.
So in addition to documents, photographs and the indexed genealogies of thousands of descendants, the project includes recorded interviews with dozens of living descendants.
“As black Americans — as descendants of enslaved people — we have always been told, ‘You’ll never know who you are. You’ll never know where you came from.’ Now that we have this data, my hope is that we can use it to open doors and make connections,” Mélisande Short-Colomb, 65, a slave descendant pursuing a history degree at Georgetown, said in a statement released by American Ancestors.
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