Stack of Photos

Search for an Ancestor

Who Were the GU272?

In 1838, the Maryland Jesuits sold more than 300 enslaved people to sugar plantations in southern Louisiana, in order to rescue Georgetown University from bankruptcy.  In all, the Jesuits sold 314 men, women and children over a 5-year period stretching from 1838 to 1843.  Today, these enslaved people are known collectively as the “GU272 Ancestors.” Genealogists have identified many of the original people who were sold, along with 8,425 of their descendants, living and dead. 

How Do I Find My GU272 Ancestor?

The GU272 were enslaved people who were sold by Georgetown University and the Maryland Jesuits to southern Louisiana in 1838. Many of their descendants still live in southern Maryland and Louisiana today. Here are a few indicators you may be related:

  • Your family is black or mixed race, with ties to slavery.
  • Your family is Roman Catholic, or used to be Catholic.
  • Your family has historic ties to southern Maryland.
  • Your family has historic ties to southern Louisiana.

A Special Thanks to Helen and DuWayne

Thank you to Helen and DuWayne Sayles, whose generous contribution made this project possible.

In the Sayles' own words: “The remarkable story behind the GU272 Memory Project ignites the soul of every human being who struggles with the history of slavery at any time and in any place. Unlike some events, however, in this one there are ways that we are able to advance to accurately document the meaningful lives that the slaves of the Jesuit plantations led in the 1800s—and that their descendants may now celebrate and proudly continue.  The data found here on this historically-rich website will assist generations to come to find, give identity to, and connect with their ancestors from this recently recovered history.”

Support this Project

You can support this project in several ways. If you are a GU272 descendant, please consider recording an oral history for the archive on this website. GU272 descendants can also contribute relevant documents, such as birth, death, or marriage records, diaries or letters, or photographs. Anyone can help fund the project. Funds support creation of the searchable database, the website, and travel to Louisiana and Maryland to record oral histories and offer family history workshops for descendants.