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Through the Lens of Data: The Enslaved Community Owned & Sold by the Maryland Province Jesuits

Through the Lens of Data: The Enslaved Community Owned & Sold by the Maryland Province Jesuits

Friday, February 22nd, 2:00 p.m.
McCormick Lounge, Coffey Hall
Lake Shore Campus

 and CCIH were honored to host special guest speaker Sharon Leon of Michigan State University, who spoke about her work on the Jesuit Plantation Project. This event was the inaugural lecture in a new Jesuit Studies Series being offered by the Hank Center.

This event was free & open to the public. 

About the Jesuit Plantation Project

(Taken from the Jesuit Plantation Project website)
In 1838 Thomas Mulledy, S.J. signed his name to an agreement selling the 275 enslaved persons who resided on Jesuit-owned estates in Southern Maryland to Louisiana. The sale served as the culmination of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus’s fraught experience with slaveholding in the colonial and early national period. While much scholarship has been written on Jesuit slaveholding, that work has primarily focused on the implications of slaveholding for the community, as well as the relevant moral issues. However, no scholar thus far has studied the enslaved communities themselves.

This project focuses on the lives and experiences of the enslaved, rather than on their Jesuit owners. Focusing on the enslaved community itself makes this project ideally suited for digital methods. With an eye to the events and relationships that formed the warp and woof of the daily lives of this enslaved community, Sharon Leon has identified the individual enslaved persons beginning in the 1740s and situated them within their families and larger community. The source base for this work consists of a number of collections related to the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, which are housed at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections at Georgetown University. Many of the key documents are available through the Georgetown Slavery Archive.

In processing and representing this archival research, the project employs linked open data and social network analysis to assess the entire community of enslaved people and their spatio-temporal relationships to one another. This approach allows for both a focus on the distinct individuality of each enslaved person and the ability to zoom out and grasp the community in aggregate, noting trends and changes in their experiences and relationships during their time in Maryland.

Learn more by visiting the Jesuit Plantation Project website