Jane was an enslaved woman who was owned by University of Mississippi Chancellor Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard. It is likely that Jane was among the two enslaved women–aged 35 and 30–Chancellor Barnard claimed in the 1860 slave schedules. Jane lived and worked in the Chancellor’s private residence on the campus of the University of Mississippi.
On the evening of May 11, 1859, while Chancellor Barnard and his wife were out of town, student S. B. Humphreys entered the chancellor’s home and raped and beat Jane. After recovering from her injuries, Jane identified her attacker and Chancellor Barnard expelled Humphreys from the University. The punishment enacted upon the student, but not the attack committed upon Jane, became the subject of what is known as “The Branham Affair,” an investigation launched by a local Oxford doctor, H. R. Branham, who leveled charges against the Chancellor for taking the word of an African American female slave over the word of a white male student.
See University of Mississippi, Record of the Testimony and Proceedings in the Matter of the Investigation by the Trustees of the University of Mississippi, on the 1st and 2nd of March, 1860, of the Charges made by H. R. Branham, against the Chancellor of the University (Jackson, Miss.: Mississippi Office, 1860), [page number needed]; Faculty Minutes, Folder 4, 174–178, Archives and Special Collections, J. D. Williams Library, University of Mississippi.
Profile written by Anne Twitty