Yale and Slavery Working Group

The charge of the Yale and Slavery Working Group (YSWG) is as follows:

to investigate Yale’s historic entanglements and associations with slavery, the slave trade, and abolition.

Guided by this scholarly objective, the group will conduct research at Yale and beyond in order to shed light on the university’s history. The findings will help us come to a better understanding of Yale and will contribute to the scholarship on slavery and abolition more broadly.

Members of the YSWG include leading Yale scholars, current Yale students, and community members with a deep interest in and knowledge of relevant histories.

As the project draws to a close, the YSWG will share its findings widely for discussion, remembrance, and learning. Public engagements may include a conference.

The project aims to conclude, with recommendations and a report, by the end of the calendar year 2021 or beginning of 2022.

To send a message to the Yale and Slavery Working Group, use this webform. Please note that, due to the volume of messages received and the group’s research activities, not all messages will receive a response. However, working group members will carefully review each message.

Committee Members


David Blight

David Blight (Chair)

Sterling Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies, Department of History; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale


Joy Burns

Joy Burns

Physician Assistant, Smilow Cancer Center; Member, Amistad Committee


Crystal Feimster

Crystal Feimster

Associate Professor African American Studies, History and American Studies, Department of African American Studies


James Forman Jr.

James Forman Jr.

J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law, Yale Law School


Jay Gitlin

Jay Gitlin

Senior Lecturer, Department of History; Associate Director, Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers & Borders


Gerald Jaynes

Gerald Jaynes

Professor of Economics and African American Studies, Department of Economics and Department of African American Studies


Willie James Jennings

Willie James Jennings

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies, Yale Divinity School


Michael Lotstein

University Archivist, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library


Michael Morand

Michael Morand

Communications Director, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library


Risë Nelson

Risë Nelson

Director, Afro-American Cultural Center; Assistant Dean, Yale College


Stephen Pitti

Stephen Pitti

Professor of History and of American Studies, Department of History and Department of American Studies; Director, Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration; Associate Head, Ezra Stiles College


Caroyln Roberts

Carolyn Roberts

Assistant Professor, History of Science & History of Medicine, Department of African American Studies and Program in the History of Science and Medicine


Edward Rugemer

Edward Rugemer

Associate Professor of African American Studies & History, Department of History


Judith Schiff

Judith Schiff

Chief Research Archivist, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library


John Stuart Gordon

John Stuart Gordon

Benjamin Attmore Hewitt Curator of American Decorator Arts, Yale University Art Gallery


Charles Warner, Jr.

Member, Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ; Member, Amistad Committee


Research Assistants


Kate Kushner

Yale College ’21


Chaka Laguerre

Yale Law School ’21


Bennett Parten

Bennett Parten

Department of History, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Ph.D. ’23


Matthew Quallen

Yale Law School ’21


Teanu Reid

Teanu Reid

Departments of History and African American Studies, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Ph.D. ’23