College and University Slavery Record Summary

Universities, colleges and schools have engaged in slavery, and engaged in activities to abolish slavery, directly as organizations, and less directly through the activities of administrators, faculty, staff and students associated with the organizations. When campus officials model and normalize slavery, this is an important educational message to students, who as alumni bring these values and norms back to their home communities. Thus, slavery at the campus can promote slavery in distant communities. This is particularly true when the campuses are educating future ministers and religious leaders, who then model and espouse slavery to their congregations and home communities.

The Northeast Slavery Records Index (NESRI) is assembling records of enslavement associated with universities, colleges and schools, and developing online reports of the records we index. We include records of enslavement by college officials and by students in their home communities. The project is starting with colonial universities and colleges, and those founded in the early decades following the establishment of the United States.

Important note: This report includes the records in the database as of the moment the report is generated.  Our research continues and additional records are continuously added to the database and sometimes corrections and updates are made. Therefore, reliance on a saved or printed version of a report is not recommended.

University and College Records

College Officials: The first table displays slaveholding records of officials associated with the colleges and universities. These include college presidents, administrators, faculty members, trustees and donors.

We have not yet separated donors and faculty from the general list of officials because the numbers of individuals are not yet large enough to warrant separate tables.


Students and Alumni: This table displays records of students, typically alumni of colleges and universities.


Enslaved People: This table identifies the names of people enslaved by the college officials and students identified in the above two tables. Some of these people were enslaved on or near campus and others were enslaved by graduates and off-campus officials.

Note that in most cases, the enslaved people do not live at the campus. Some reside in distant communities and states, illustrating how norms and values of enslavement can be perpetuated by alumni far from the university campus.


Clergy: This table identifies members of the clergy, for various religions, who had official roles or who graduated from the college or university in the report. Important resources that document the universities attended by colonial clergy are Colonial Clergy of New England and Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies.

Eventually we plan to list the churches where the enslaved ministers served, illustrating how a single divinity graduate can preach about and model slavery in a series of churches and communities.


NESRI is an online searchable compilation of records that identify individual enslaved persons and enslavers in the states of New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey. NESRI indexes census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth certifications, manumissions, ship inventories, newspaper accounts, private narratives, legal documents and many other sources. The goal is to deepen the understanding of slavery in the northeast United States by bringing together information that until now has been largely disconnected and difficult to access. NESRI has indexed almost 70,000 records relating to slavery, most naming the enslaved people and/or their enslavers.

To see what NESRI does, the most direct and simple approach is to click on Find Community or Locality Records. Anyone can identify a place like the name of a Town or County or an entire state, and see a customized report of the enslavement records for the selected locality. For colleges and universities, we uses this page to present tables of officials, students and enslaved people.