“The purpose of this project is to shed light on a history that has gone unnoticed or unheard, in a journey that has only begun. We’ve interviewed people with a story to tell, from the Georgetown 272 descendants to professors at Georgetown University. All of our interviewees play a significant role in the connections we’ve made of past to present.
We would like to thank the Rodger Hadfield Ogden Honors College for the funding for this project. Special thanks to Jennifer Cramer and the T. Harry William Center for Oral History as well as for making this project possible.”
- Co-Curators, Kaitryana M. Leinbach & Hannah N. Richards,
Roger Hadfield Ogden Leaders Scholarship recipients
Georgetown University in Washington D.C. is a private institution of higher education, founded as Georgetown College by the Jesuit Order of the Catholic Church in 1789. Priests administering the college in 1838 sold 272 people – enslaved individuals – in order to pay off debts and secure the school’s financial stability. These men, women and children were sent to New Orleans, and then on to plantations in the Grosse-Tête and Maringouin areas to labor against their will.
Long hidden by history, researchers uncovered details about the sale digging through the Georgetown University archives, revealing a link between Maryland’s past and Louisiana’s present. Many genealogists who seek information about their African-American ancestry come to a dead end at the Civil War for a number of reasons. Information regarding the Georgetown sale has proven helpful in this regard as it has illuminated a significant trove of archival data. Hours of research have led to the identification of descendants of the Georgetown 272, many of whom still live in Louisiana.
In Spring 2017 the LSU Honors College offered a course, taught by Jonathan Earle, Dean, and Jennifer A. Cramer, Director, T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, titled “272 Slaves: Discovering Louisiana’s (and Georgetown’s) Past.” Through the course, undergraduate students learned about the history of slavery in the United States and how its legacy continues to affect us today. Students enrolled in the class conducted oral history interviews with descendants of the 272 enslaved people, members of the larger Maringouin community, and Georgetown faculty members. Two students from that class were awarded the Roger Hadfield Ogden Leaders Scholarship this past year to continue the work they began in class. As part of their work Hannah Richards and Kaitryana Leinbach have conducted additional oral histories regarding the GU272, reviewed interviews from the 2017 class project, and co-curated this exhibit.
The listening station portion of the exhibition was co-curated by Hannah Richards and Kaitryana Leinbach, LSU Honors College students. Oversight and content contributions by Jennifer A. Cramer, Director, T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. Additional content selection by Taylor Stirling, Center Student Assistant. Audio engineered by Anne Wheeler and Chandler Taylor, Center Graduate Assistants. The gallery and online listening station interface was designed and installed by Kyle Tanglao, User Interface Designer, Technology Initiatives, LSU Libraries.
The curators wish to thank Leah W. Jewett, Exhibitions Coordinator; and Russell Wilder, Alexis Baptiste and Cindy Sonbuchner, Williams Center Student Assistants, for assistance. Curators also thank LSU Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle and the students from the 2017 Spring Honors 2030 as well as the narrators who shared their stories.