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Case Study

Princeton & Slavery


The Princeton & Slavery Project details the University's and greater New Jersey’s involvement with the institution of slavery. Through primary sources, stories and visualizations the website reveals facts including that each of the university’s first nine Presidents owned slaves, a slave sale took place on Princeton’s campus in 1766, enslaved people lived at the President’s House until at least 1822, and one professor had a slave as late as 1840.


The research team has spent years collecting stories and sources to explore the slaveholding practices of Princeton’s early trustees and faculty members, the impact of donations stemming from the profits of slave labor, and the broader culture of slavery in New Jersey state (which did not fully abolish slavery until 1865). The project also documents the southern origins of many Princeton students during the pre-Civil War period and considers how their presence shaped campus sentiment toward race and politics.

Over time, the collection of artifacts that resulted in the Princeton and Slavery Project grew out of their original website. The team contacted us, after seeing our work on a separate slavery-related project called Two, to design a website that was intuitive and could scale with additional source material.

Our Approach

Website - Princeton & Slavery - Screenshot

The historical artifacts housed in Stories, Sources, and Visualization are the meat of the website. The Stories section includes topical essays written by a wide range of authors, the Sources section houses an ever-growing library of primary source material, and the Visualization section brings the data to life using trend analysis techniques.

Website - Princeton & Slavery - Screens

The website also features lesson plans for high school and college curriculums, a news and events section, and a contact form where users are encouraged to provide feedback and submit relevant materials.

Website - Princeton & Slavery - Inner Pages

Upon completion of the design phase, we coded templates and integrated them into Craft CMS. As the project continues to grow in size, we have built in filters and tags that serve up related stories and sources for users investigating a particular strand of the topic. In addition, we integrated the Craft CMS login with Princeton University’s single sign-on system, Central Authentication Service. 

The Result

The Princeton and Slavery Project launched in November 2017 and made quite an impact given the compelling nature of its content. We are confident that as the project grows, the website can scale accordingly, without sacrificing design or organization.

Visit Website

“Grafton met our complex design and development needs with intelligence, grace, and speed. Our website is immensely complex – with the equivalent of more than 800 printed pages, 370 primary sources, interactive maps and graphs, videos, and more. But Grafton met every challenge we threw at them, becoming essential partners in our website project. We’re all thrilled with the final outcome.”
Martha Sandweiss, Professor of History, Princeton University and Director, The Princeton & Slavery Project

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