Legacies of Enslavement

Emmanuel has shared for more than four centuries in the stories of its members and the communities within and beyond its walls. Debates and decisions in wider society and the world have shaped, and been given shape by, the work of our fellowship and our alumni.

Map of eighteenth century JamaicaSome of these narratives are a familiar part of the history of Emmanuel, from the foundation of the College in a time of deep religious division, to the aftermath of the English Civil War, through the political, scientific, and industrial revolutions that followed, and through losses endured in the conflicts of the twentieth century. Some changes, such as the admission of women students, are well within living memory. All the stories we continue to tell about Emmanuel and its history are a shared enterprise.

Other stories have been less frequently told, but they are no less a part of our history. The Emmanuel Histories Working Group began meeting in the summer of 2020. Its membership is drawn from college staff, students, fellows, and alumni. Through the work that it has begun and hopes to foster, the Working Group aims to open new chapters in the history of Emmanuel; to ensure that the stories we tell about the College acknowledge all the paths taken to form our community; and to encourage informed, respectful, and honest conversations about these intertwined and frequently challenging histories. The Working Group’s primary focus to date has been the transatlantic trade in enslaved people, and the cultures and legacies of enslavement and abolitionist thought.

Minutes of Working Group Meetings