“Connecting Maryland’s Past to Louisiana’s Present: The Georgetown 272” will be on exhibit in the Hill Memorial Library Lecture Hall April 10 through June 30, 2018. LSU Ogden Honors College students Kaitryana M. Leinbach and Hannah N. Richards worked with Jennifer Cramer, director of the LSU Libraries T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, and other LSU Libraries staff on the exhibition as part of their Roger Hatfield Ogden Leaders Scholarships, and they will present a poster on their project (#102) at LSU Discover Day on April 10 in the LSU Student Union. The exhibit, which includes a listening station featuring oral histories and photos, is a culmination of over a year of oral history research into the legacy of Georgetown University’s 1838 sale of enslaved people to Louisiana.
The exhibition grew out of a Spring 2017 LSU Honors College course, taught by Dean Jonathan Earle and Cramer, called “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 and Georgetown faculty members. This exhibition is based on work that the class did as a unit, as well as follow-up fieldwork that continued into Spring of 2018.
Approximately 20 narrators, most of whom live in south Louisiana, share stories of their elders, growing up under Jim Crow laws, fighting to desegregate Louisiana, and what it was like finding out that they are descended from the original 272 enslaved people who were sold to pay off institutional debts. Those interviewed also reveal their expectations regarding future relationships with Jesuits, the Georgetown administration, and their hopes for GU272 generations going forward.