November 7, 2017 – On Monday, Princeton University officially released The Princeton & Slavery Project, which investigates the University’s involvement with the institution of slavery. The project's website, impressive for its depth of research, catalogues hundreds of primary source documents and includes more than 80 articles about the University's ties to slavery.
Among the articles are two contributions by James Moorhead, Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary, which detail the Seminary's relationship to slavery and the role of slavery in Presbyterianism.
“It is important that we understand the truth about our history, for only then can we make confession and move towards the reconciliation that God desires for us all.”
— M. Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Theological Seminary
Over the past year, Princeton Seminary has been conducting its own research project concerning the history of the Seminary’s connections to slavery. In the spring of 2016, President M. Craig Barnes commissioned a group to undertake a historical audit of the Seminary’s relationship to slavery, including Professors Moorhead, Gordon Mikoski, and Yolanda Pierce (now Dean of Howard University School of Divinity), as well as Dr. James Kay, Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Seminary Archivist Ken Henke. This group has studied everything from the demographics of the student body to activities of alumni. They have examined the relationship of the Seminary’s founders to slavery, the economic base of the facilities, and the participation of faculty and board members in the American Colonization Society. This fall Professor Keri Day, Dr. Anne Stewart, and Kermit Moss, Interim Director of the Center for Black Church Studies, joined the group. A final report is expected to be completed in the spring of 2018.
At the beginning of the fall semester President Barnes wrote a letter to the Princeton Seminary community, sharing about the progress of this group and stressing the importance of their work.
“These efforts are part of an honest and transparent evaluation of our past,” he said. “Truth-telling is an important discipline for Christian people. It is important that we understand the truth about our history, for only then can we make confession and move towards the reconciliation that God desires for us all.”
Read “Princeton Theological Seminary and Slavery” by James Moorhead
Read “Presbyterians and Slavery” by James Moorhead
Read article in The New York Times, “Princeton Digs Deep Into Its Fraught Racial History”
“One of the biggest lessons I learned was how to be charitable to views other than my own. Christian charity was shown to me, not just in the readings for class, but from the professors, and the Seminary community.”