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Around the country, universities are exploring their historical connections with the institution of slavery. The University of Pennsylvania has recently joined the national conversation. Since 2017, undergraduate students have conducted archival research, examined the history of the University of Pennsylvania, and formed the Penn & Slavery Project. The project has discovered numerous ways in which the university relied on and contributed to the institution of slavery in North America and in the Caribbean. The research has uncovered hidden chapters in Penn’s history by identifying slave-holding 18th Century trustees and faculty members, fundraising efforts that deliberately sought donations from enslavers and the role Penn’s medical school played in developing scientific racism, certifying doctors trained in “plantation medicine” to keep enslaved people, and the institution of slavery, alive.

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