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The UGA Administration building is located on UGA's north campus. (Photo/Jason Born)

A University of Georgia research team has received a grant supported by private funds from the Office of the UGA President to study the history of slavery at the university, according to a Nov. 5 UGA Today news release.

The academic team is made up of 22 members of varying departments across the university. The researchers will research a timeline spanning from 1785 — when UGA was founded — to the end of the Civil War in 1865. This “multidisciplinary” study will focus on enslaved African Americans who worked on campus, according to the release.

Faculty and student researchers will examine primary sources and archaeological data related to UGA’s history of slavery. Chana Kai Lee, an associate professor of history and African American studies, will lead the group.

The team submitted a proposal for the grant in September. Michelle Garfield Cook, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and strategic university initiatives, helped select the proposal for funding alongside David Lee, vice president for research, and Toby Graham, university librarian and associate provost. Cook is looking forward to the collaboration between faculty from different areas of study that she said will “provide a rich, academic examination of the history of slavery at UGA and contribute significantly to our scholarly understanding of the history of this institution.”

The team will publish its findings as a print and electronic collection of essays with the University of Georgia Press. It will also be available in The Public Historian, an academic journal that covers public history. The research is expected to be completed by June 30, 2021.

The announcement comes four years after the start of the Baldwin Hall controversy. In November 2015, 105 gravesites were found during a renovation of Baldwin Hall — DNA testing found the remains were likely those of slaves. UGA moved the remains to nearby Oconee Hill Cemetery in 2017, but members of the black community criticized the way it was handled.

A memorial was built at Baldwin and dedicated in November 2018. The issue remained contentious, though, as the Franklin College Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Baldwin Hall released a report in April 2019 alleging intimidation of faculty members by administrators.

Also in the spring, activists organized protests calling for UGA to institute reperational scholarships to descendants of slaves who worked at the university. UGA President Jere Morehead responded by penning a letter to the editor published in The Red & Black.

UGA began soliciting research proposals in August. More information on the Baldwin Hall issue can be found here.


Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the gravesites uncovered at Baldwin Hall were uncovered in November 2014, when they were actually uncovered in November 2015. The Red & Black regrets this error and it has since been fixed.

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