50 Haven Avenue (Formerly, Bard Hall) Video Transcript

Columbia University and Slavery


[Description: video begins by panning over a drawing of King’s College, which later became Columbia University. There is no audio, only text]

Columbia Enslavers 1740-1820

According to census records, Columbia administrators, trustees, and professors enslaved at least 227 people in 1790, 148 in 1800, 70 in 1810, and 9 in 1820.

Researchers, including undergraduate members of the Columbia University and Slavery seminar, have identified over 150 individuals enslaved by King’s College and Columbia affiliates. 

The true number of men, women, and children held in bondage between 1741 and 1827 was undoubtedly much higher.


[Description: video transitions to a picture of the 2019 Columbia University & Slavery seminar meeting with President Lee Bollinger]

The Columbia University & Slavery Seminar

First offered by the History Department in 2015, the Columbia University & Slavery seminar is an undergraduate research course that runs during the fall semester. 

Student researchers in the seminar have led the way in discovering and examining Columbia’s connections to the history and legacies of enslavement.


[Description: background changes to a picture of members of the 2020 Columbia University & Slavery seminar viewing archival documents in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library]

Student researchers

Students in the Columbia University and Slavery Project seminars have spent years examining archival documents and other historical sources to discover these hidden and forgotten stories.


[Description: background changes to a picture of students in 2017 in the Columbia 1968 seminar posing while taking a walking tour of campus]


[Description: video of student on zoom talking, no audio]

Olganydia Plata Aguilera 
Columbia College '23

"Whenever I just walk around campus, I'm just kind of reminded of this research, and this history, and this knowledge…

What I would like to see on campus is more spaces where we can acknowledge that history but also make a space where we can also celebrate joy."


Samuel Bard and 50 Haven Avenue

[Description: Picture of Headline and subheading from New York Times Article. Headline reads: “After 90 Years, Columbia Takes Slave Owner's Name Off a Dorm”. Subheading reads: “Samuel Bard was George Washington's doctor and delivered Alexander Hamilton's first son. He was also a "pretty significant slave owner.”’.]


[Description: Picture of wall of dorm that previously read “Bard Hall, 50 Haven Avenue.” You can see that “Bard Hall” lettering has been removed, even though traces of the letters remain visible.]

In 2020, Columbia responded to protests by students and faculty at CUIMC and removed the name "Bard" from its medical campus residence hall.


[Description: portrait sketch of Samuel Bard from the Columbia University Archives]

Samuel Bard 

Samuel Bard (1742-1821) enslaved at least eight people–and almost certainly more–during the course of his life and career as an early American physician.

He coerced the labor of these people for domestic and agricultural work and subjected them–living and dead–to study and experimentation to advance his professional standing.


[Description: picture of a contract handwritten by John Bard, Samuel Bard’s father, from Bard College Archives & Special Collections.]

Education Funded by Slave Labor 

Earnings derived from enslavement directly served Samuel Bard's professional advancement.

In 1765, around the time that Samuel Bard returned from studying medicine in Edinburgh, his father, John Bard, leased some of his plantations in Dutchess County, New York, to a local overseer to cover the expenses.

The contract included "the use of one negro woman named Jamaica, and a negro boy named Cuffy, and a negro girl named Prida."


[Description: video of student speaking on zoom, no audio]

Tommy Song
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism '22

"I hope these histories may inspire all of us to be vigilant about how our actions and behaviors are influencing others, because I think any systemic change starts with the personal and the interpersonal, and–eventually–the political."


[Description: clipping of runaway slave advertisement placed by Samuel Bard in the New York Gazette on July 8, 1776]

Runaway Slave Advertisement 

On July 8, 1776, Samuel Bard paid to have a runaway-slave ad printed in a New York City newspaper in an attempt to capture and re-enslave a man named James, who had escaped from his household.

The advertisement reads: Run-away, a Negro Man named JAMES, tall and thin, the whites of his Eyes remarkably red, and his Face full of Eruptions: He is a talkative plausible Fellow, and had on when he went away an old grey Bearskin short Coat, Check Shirt, Linen Breeches, and worsted Stockings, and is supposed to be gone towards the East End of Long-Island.

Whoever takes up and secures the said Negro, so that his Master may get him again, or brings him to Doctor Samuel Bard, in New-York, shall receive TEN DOLLARS Reward, and all reasonable Charges paid by SAMUEL BARD.


[Description: excerpt from 1790 census that includes Samuel Bard and those connected to his household. Video highlights lines of census pertaining to Bard and his slave ownership.]

Censuses Show Bard Slave Ownership

Samuel Bard was almost 50 years old in 1790, when the first U.S. census was taken.

Census records therefore do not tell the full story of his life as an enslaver, but they offer direct evidence of some of the family's connections to slavery.

In the first census, Samuel Bard's household included three enslaved people. In 1800, Samuel Bard claimed seven enslaved people.

In the 1810 census, Samuel Bard claimed eight enslaved people.


Grave Robbers

In 18th-century New York City, medical students and professors at King's College, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and New York Hospital–all institutions associated with Samuel Bard–were notorious for stealing Black bodies from local graveyards to use for anatomical dissections. Bard's role as administrator at these institutions incriminates him in these horrific activities.


[Description: picture of Richard Jenkins from the Historical Notes of Saint James Parish, Hyde Park-on-Hudson, New York]

A Prominent Former Slave of Samuel Bard
Richard Jenkins

Richard Jenkins was enslaved by Samuel Bard. After emancipation in the 1820s, Jenkins served for decades as rector of the Bard family church in upstate New York.

His children and grandchildren were leading members of the Black community in the Hudson Valley into the 20th century.


[Description: list of people known to be enslaved by the Bard Family listed against backdrop of census image]

The Names We Know 
(People Enslaved by the Bard Family)

  • Caesar - 1740-1824 
  • Jamaica - 1765
  • Cuffy - 1765
  • Prida - 1765
  • James - 1776
  • Jenny - 1800s
  • Betsy - 1800s
  • Pompey - ca. 1820
  • Richard Jenkins - ca. 1800-1820


[Description: video of student on zoom talking, no audio]

Stella Kazibwe
Columbia College '22

"Yes, we're talking about history. But, at the same time, a lot of this is still happening, and it's very current."


[Description: video proceeds to closing words against picture of Columbia University in the background]

Next Steps

Learn More at the Columbia University & Slavery website.


Take the Seminars and research Columbia University's historical connections to enslavement and its legacies.




Information in this presentation was researched by the following individuals:

Charlette Caldwell

Thomas Germain

Trey Greenough

Thai Jones

Stella Kazibwe

Joshua Morrison

Olganydia Plata Aguilera

Tommy Song

and by participants in the Columbia University & Slavery and Columbia 1968 seminars


With Support From

Columbia University Office of the President

Columbia University Office of the Provost


Columbia University Libraries