On These Grounds: Slavery and the University of Georgia

Archivists and academics at the University of Georgia (UGA) are participating in the On These Grounds: Slavery and the University (OTG) project, a nationwide collaboration, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project was created to evaluate, revise, and disseminate a shared data model and common vocabulary to describe the experiences of enslaved individuals in catalogs and metadata at academic libraries and cultural institutions across the country.

This project builds upon the research developed by faculty involved in the History of Slavery at UGA Project (HSUGA), a multidisciplinary, community-centered project that seeks to uncover stories of the enslaved African Americans who labored on campus from its founding to 1865.

On These Grounds at UGA is led by Scott Nesbit, associate professor of digital humanities in the College of Environment and Design and founding member of the HSUGA Project; Kat Stein, director of the Hargrett Library; and Sierra Beighey, graduate student in historic preservation. In addition, the project team includes Chana Kai Lee, associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ department of history, and Steve Armour, university archivist, with support from Sheila McAlister, head of the Digital Library of Georgia, as well as the Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab.

Original collaborators for the OTG Project include Michigan State University, Georgetown University, the University of Virginia and the Omeka web-publishing platform. In addition to UGA, other partners in the second phase testing include Hampden-Sydney College; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Washington and Lee University.

About the Descriptive Model:

The intention of the descriptive metadata and the OTG events are to expose the relationship between the University and enslaved individuals on campus using primary resources. The project records actions that pertain to the enslavement of individuals through organizations, individuals, or communities that are related to the University. The descriptive metadata used in the OTG model include a description of the event, enslaved participant, other participants, location, date, and source.

The OTG events must have a direct connection to the University's following: boards and committees, student organizations, staff and faculty, students and alumni, presidents and trustees, and/or the physical campus. Various types of archival resources were researched for indications of enslavement including minutes, autobiographies, newspapers, wills, legislation, and censuses.

For more information, watch Sierra Beighey's presentation on this project from the Digital Library of Georgia's Partner Event:  https://kaltura.uga.edu/media/t/1_w4e9pfz0/35881601