On These Grounds: Documenting Slavery at W&L

On These Grounds: Documenting Slavery at W&L is a collaborative project to share the history of slavery at W&L through archival sources and an event-based data set. This website contains a preview of the data created by the W&L University Library and Institutional History departments.

From 2021-2022, W&L served as a testing partner with the On These Grounds project, a Mellon-funded initiative to design and test a data model using controlled vocabularies to describe events in the lives of enslaved individuals as found in archival documents.  The On These Grounds core team consists of researchers from Michigan State University, Georgetown University, and the University of Virginia.  The project's mission is to:

  • create, evaluate, revise, and disseminate a linked opend data ontology focused on adequately describing the lived experiences of those enslaved individuals who labored in bondage at higher education institutions that are represented in those institutions' archival holdings;
  • create a set of resources, both descriptive guidance and supports, that will enable other colleges and universities to undertake this work;
  • and, aggregate the resulting data in the service of increasing the discoverability of this information and of fostering new scholarship on the lived experience of those enslaved persons who labored in the service of institutions of higher education.

You can learn more about the project on our About page, including a description of our materials, process, and historical context.