Yesterday evening I read the really terrific report that Sven Beckert and Katherine Stevens produced around the undergraduate course they taught, the Harvard and Slavery Research Seminar. A pdf of the short book they produced is here. It's a great model for faculty to pursue, to have students all pulling together on a similar project and producing papers that will build towards a single project. And they've uncovered a lot of great information -- including my favorite, which is that the old Cambridge burial yard has enslaved people buried in it. I'll have to check that out sometime -- probably years from now, because I'm in introverted mode these days and am not venturing outside of Chapel Hill for a while. The book is really beautifuly produced. I think you'll quite enjoy reading it.
The report focuses largely on Harvard and slavery in the colonial era, though they also talk about the nineteenth century and carry the story down after the war, to the building of Memorial Hall (which was constructed in the 1870s as a memorial to Harvard alumni who fought in the war) and also really down to the present. Their concluding chapter speculates on the enslaved workers at Elmwood House, which was constructed in the colonial era and is now the house of President Drew Faust (herself a very distinguished scholar of the old South).
Here is their website, HarvardandSlavery.com
I must say that as the semester's getting under way here in Chapel Hill I'm thinking about what a great teaching experience that must have been for Sven and Katherine -- and it also reminds me of John Wertheimer's wonderful senior seminar at Davidson, where the students collectively write an article on a case. It's a pretty cool model. They each propose a case, then they vote on which one they're study and then they each research an aspect of it.
I don't seem to have a picture of Elmwood House in my stock, so I thought that I'd use another illustration from Cambridge, the Longfellow House, which is on Brattle Street. I wrote about this a while back, when talking about Justice Holmes' cat. The Longfellow House is associated with anti-slavery, a theme that is also worth some exploration when thinking about Harvard's connections to slavery.