The University of Maryland's “The 1856 Project” is a new initiative, led by two faculty members in the Libraries, that will strengthen the university’s commitment to provide a narrative of the University of Maryland's history that embraces its past, stands firm in the challenges and achievements of its present, and lays the groundwork for a liberated future.
The project’s start marked the university’s joining with the Universities Studying Slavery Consortium (USS), an international group of colleges and universities encouraging their campuses to think about their connections to slavery and the slave trade, while addressing historical and contemporary issues surrounding race and inequality in higher education. USS, which is hosted at the University of Virginia, is dedicated to organizing multi-institutional collaboration as part of an effort to facilitate mutual support in the pursuit of common goals around the core theme of “Universities Studying Slavery.”
USS additionally allows participating institutions to work together as they address both historical and contemporary issues dealing with race and inequality in higher education and in university communities as well as the complicated legacies of slavery in modern American society.
The institutional official of The 1856 Project is the Senior Vice President and Provost, and the institutional co-leads are Libraries' faculty members, Lae’l Hughes-Watkins, University Archivist, and Joni Floyd, Libraries Curator for Maryland and Historical Collections. Douglas McElrath, Director of the Libraries' Special Collections & University Archives is also a member of the project team. Other project members include: Richard Bell, Christopher Bonner, Georgina Dodge, Traci Dula, Mark Leone, Kim Nickerson, Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, and Philip Soergel.
A website for the new initiative will be available soon.