Did You Know...

Key Findings

Based on census records, Columbia affiliates (administrators, trustees, professors) past, present, and future, enslaved at least 227 people in 1790, 148 in 1800, 70 in 1810, and 9 in 1820.  

Based on census records, at least two Columbia College presidents, nineteen professors, seventy-three Trustees, and a provost, all enslaved people.  

We have identified 120 individuals enslaved by Columbia affiliates between 1741 and 1817.

Historical Research

King’s College and Columbia Affiliates posted 44 runaway slave ads between the years 1760 and 1805. Jordan Brewington researched, wrote about, and discusses these stories of resistance.

In 1924, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross on Columbia’s Morningside campus in protest against a Black student resident in Furnald Hall. Thomas Germain’s research opened up a more in-depth look into this white supremacist attack.

Samuel Johnson, the first president of King’s College, enslaved at least twenty people during his lifetime. Rachel Page writes about how this Anglican minister took slavery for granted in his personal and family life.

Before Morningside Heights served as home to Columbia University, the fields and farms of the area were worked by enslaved laborers. Cleome Barber explores the history of enslavement on Morningside Heights in the eighteenth century.

Columbia College President Frederick A.P. Barnard was an enslaver and a firm supporter of slavery during his time in the South before the Civil War. Heather Loepere takes an in-depth look at his attitudes toward slavery throughout his life.

James Kent, Columbia’s first professor of law, enslaved at least two people during his life. Isabel von Stauffenberg looks at how Kent reconciled his practices as an enslaver with his theories about the law.  

Explore the racist science espoused by a founding member of Columbia’s Department of Psychology that Amy Rupert learned about via her research.  

Examine the ways that Columbia students performed racist stereotypes of Blackface minstrelsy on campus in the early 20th century through the research of John Scott Butler.