For several years, members of University of Mississippi Slavery Research Group have been offering campus slavery tours to their own students, to visiting scholars, and on request. These tours, which can vary between 45 minutes and an hour and a half in length, seek to make the UMSRG’s findings publicly available in an easily digestible format. The tours we’ve been giving vary from guide to guide, but generally include information about:
- the development of the antebellum campus the centrality of enslaved laborers in the construction and daily operation of the antebellum campus
- the conditions under which enslaved people worked on campus
- the slaveholdings of early UM students, faculty, and trustees, as well as their ideological commitments to slavery
- slavery’s role as the central cause of the Civil War
- slavery’s relationship to Confederate iconography and memorialization
In Fall 2019, UMSRG began offering these tours on a more formal basis to UM students and faculty. History Ph.D. student Don Guillory was hired to organize and lead these tours—with the help of additional volunteers Rhondalyn Pairs, Neale Grisham, and Matthew Powell—and he continues those duties in the Fall 2020 semester.
Faculty members interested in scheduling a tour for their course(s) should click here for availability. If a preferred date and time is not listed, please contact Don Guillory for further options. You can also contact Don with any questions about the tours that are not addressed below.
In the meantime, check out some images from last semester’s tours.
Campus Slavery Tour FAQ
1) Where all do you go on a campus slavery tour?
- Barnard Observatory
- Contextualization Plaque dedicated to the University’s Enslaved Laborers
- Former site of the Confederate Monument on the Circle
- Hilgard Cut
- Oxford Free Black Community
2) As a faculty member signing up my class for a tour, do I need to be present when it takes place?
No! You can request the tour for a time you’ll be away at a conference, for instance, and let us do the rest. But you’re also welcome to join! Most tours meet on the Lyceum steps, facing the Circle. You can add that information to your syllabus, or you can ask us to depart from a different location.
3) Will there be other opportunities for my students to take a campus slavery tour even if I don’t sign my class up?
Yes! Don will be hosting at least one, and probably several, campus slavery tours each week, so you can also have students go on their own time. It would also be a great extra credit opportunity. Please check back for a schedule of these tours.
4) Are there readings or assignments that I can give students that would enhance the tour?
Yes! It’s a great idea to have students do some reading about the University’s relationship to slavery and reliance on enslaved laborers in its earliest years. UMSRG has lots of great, short pieces you could ask students to read, which you can find here. The first story, “The Unnamed Woman and the Bassinet,” is a great place to start. If you’re looking for something a little longer, you could have students read a brief report that history faculty put together back in 2016 in an effort to improve the plaque in front of out campus’s Confederate monument. You could also assign history Ph.D. candidate Eli Baker’s recently published Journal of Mississippi History article “The University of Mississippi, the Board of Trustees, Students, and Slavery, 1848-1860.”
You may also choose to have students write a reflection about the tour. This reflection might ask what the learned on the tour, how the tour affected them personally, and/or how the tour changed their understanding of the University’s history.
We’re working to develop more material, so please, feel free to send suggestions our way–and check back often!