What’s New in the Resource Database?

stack of books in shelf

The Resource Database is a useful, searchable resource for any individual, academic program, or institution that needs inspiration to help reckon with the legacies of American slavery in their own communities. Compiled from the activities of dozens of CIC member colleges, the Resource Database provides a carefully curated list of what institutions and scholars across the nation are doing to tackle each legacy theme. The database includes archival collections, scholarly monographs, institutional reports, course syllabi, public programs, news articles, and more.

We welcome you—we urge you!—to contribute to the database. Every entry can help students, scholars, and communities engage with the afterlives of slavery in thoughtful, practical ways.

Here are just a few of the examples from the rapidly expanding database:

clipping from an 1852 speech by William C. Nell

The Black Abolitionist Digital Archive, hosted by University of Detroit Mercy in Michigan, is a collection of over 800 speeches by antebellum Black leaders and approximately 1,000 editorials between the 1820s to the Civil War. These important documents provide a portrait of black involvement in the anti-slavery movement; scans of these documents are provided as images and PDF files. Above is part of a newspaper account of an 1852 speech by Black author/activist/civil servant William C. Nell, encouraging unenfranchised white women to support the cause of abolition through persuasion—one of the teachable documents in the archive.

At Willamette University in Oregon, a professor and a group of students (above) were the driving force behind a recent ballot initiative to remove the “slavery exception” (i.e., as a punishment for crime) from the state constitution.The effort began as a project in Prof. Melissa Buis Michaux’s “Reforming Criminal Justice” class. Download the syllabus.

At Rhodes College in Tennessee, a task force came together to think about renaming the oldest building on campus, Palmer Hall. Palmer was named for Benjamin Palmer, a minister and fierce segregationist. Together, the task force settled on renaming the above building Southwestern Hall in 2019. Read the task force’s report.

Want to Contribute to the Database?

The database is designed to reflect the teaching, research, collections, and public engagements of the 660-plus colleges and universities that are members of the Council of Independent Colleges. If you are associated with a CIC member institution and you can answer YES to any of the following questions, you probably have a link to contribute to the resource database.

  • Are you doing work in your community to think about any of the legacies of slavery?
  • Does your teaching or research consider slavery or any of the afterlives of slavery?
  • Does your college have a committee or task force that is thinking about the institution’s historical entanglement with slavery? Is the institution thinking about renaming buildings or removing monuments (or perhaps building new monuments)?
  • Does your campus have a direct geographic link to slavery (say, as a stop on the Underground Railroad) or the history of race relations that you think others should know about?
  • Does the campus library have any collections (digital or on paper) that reflect the histories of enslavement and freedom in your community, your state, or your region?
  • Is there a new article or monograph, by you or someone else on the faculty, that addresses your institution’s histories of enslavement and freedom, or the afterlives of slavery in your community?
  • Is there an oral history or documentary project in the works designed to tell a more inclusive story about your institution?
  • Are your students creating works of art or scholarship or engaging with members of the community to consider the ongoing impact of slavery on issues of justice and equality?

This list of questions is hardly exhaustive! If you’re working on a campus DEI initiative, a digital exhibit about race and justice, a novel or play about slavery or resistance, a museum exhibit, a policy center, a new academic program related to environmental justice—or any other initiative that reckons with the history and long shadow of American slavery—we want to highlight and share your work.

Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and are subject to review before inclusion in the database. Please send questions or links to legaciesproject@cic.edu.