GU272 Organizations: Who's Who

Georgetown Memory Project – Organized by Georgetown University Alumnus Richard Cellini, this nonprofit is dedicated to identifying the people sold in 1838, locating their descendants, acknowledging them as members of the Georgetown family, and honoring their sacrifice and legacy.  Cellini hired Louisiana-based genealogist Judy Riffel and Maryland-based genealogist Malissa Ruffner to conduct research on the GU272 and their descendants. Officially, “The GMP is an independent group founded by friends, allies & alumni of Georgetown University, aligned with the Georgetown slaves and their living descendants." In 2017, the GMP partnered with American Ancestors, the oldest non-profit genealogical society in America, to digitize the GU272 genealogical research and turn it into a searchable online database that would be free to everyone. This website is the product of the partnership between GMP and American Ancestors.

GU272 Descendants Association – Based in Louisiana, the GU272 Descendants Association is a non-profit organization established and operated by GU272 descendants “dedicated to preserving the memory, commemorating the lives and restoring the honor of the 272 enslaved people sold by the Jesuits.”  The GU272 is a voice for all GU272 descendants, and advocates on behalf of the GU272 community. It also hosts lectures, events and genealogical workshops, and is a network for putting descendants in contact with one another.

GU272 Isaac Hawkins Legacy – “The Isaac Hawkins Legacy site is the voice of two hundred of the direct descendants of Isaac Hawkins, one of the 272 black people who were enslaved and sold by Maryland Jesuits in 1838 to rescue fledgling Georgetown College from financial ruin…the purpose of this site is to educate, to generate awareness, and to remind the university and the nation that justice is still owed to the descendants of the GU272.” 

Legacy of the GU272 Alliance – “Many of the sold slaves ended up in Maringouin (Cajun French for “mosquito”), a little town outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana that is desperately impoverished. Of the roughly 1,110 people living there, approximately 900 are direct descendants of the human beings whose sale price bolstered the university’s endowment. This website traces the descendants of Cornelius (Neely) Hawkins, one of the slaves that wound up at the West Oak Plantation in Maringouin.

The Campbell Family is a private organization comprised of descendants of Frank Campbell and Mary Jane Mahoney Campbell.  Its primary mission is to locate and unite GU272 descendants of Frank and Mary Jane as well as Watt and Theresa Baney Campbell. Their separation from the family unit was the result of action by Jesuit priests to save Georgetown University from economic hardship in 1838. The organization is dedicated to restoring family connections in order to honor the legacies of our ancestors, and to empower future generations with the knowledge of their pedigree and the tenacity of a lineage of strength. If you are a Campbell descendant interested in joining, you may contact the group at Gr8Heritage@gmail.com.

American Ancestors: The country’s founding genealogical organization, established in 1845, American Ancestors is the nation’s leading comprehensive resource for family history research and the largest organization of its kind in the world. It provides expert family history services through professional genealogists and historians, original scholarship, data-rich websites, educational opportunities, and a world-class research center based in Boston to help family historians of all levels and all backgrounds explore their past and understand their families’ unique place in history. Since 2017, American Ancestors has collaborated with the Georgetown Memory Project to steward the genealogical research of GU272 families, and collect oral histories from descendants. In 2019, American Ancestors launched The GU272 Memory Project website as a central portal for GU272 research.

Georgetown University’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation is a group formed by Georgetown University’s president John J. DeGioia in 2015 to “reflect upon our University’s history and involvement in the institution of slavery.” The group was directed to make "make recommendations to help guide the University’s ongoing work related to slavery and its legacies." Since its inception, this group contributed to what would become the Georgetown Slavery Archive and hosted a number of events with descendants to increase communications between the descendant community and the university.