Georgetown Memory Project


The GU272 descendant community has preserved an immensely rich corpus of family stories and shared historical memories. These stories record not just the lives of early GU272 descendants, but accounts of enslaved GU272 Ancestors and the 1838 slave sale as well. From 2016 to2018, the Georgetown Memory Project recorded forty (40) museum-quality oral histories with verified GU272 Descendants. These 40 audio interviews (each lasting approximately 1.25 hours) provide broad coverage of the four Maryland “departure plantations,” the three Louisiana “destination plantations,” and the 50 original GU272 families upended by the 1838 slave sale. On February 28, 2020, the Library of Congress signed a binding agreement with the GMP accepting the “GU272 Oral History Collection of the Georgetown Memory Project” as a gift to the nation, for inclusion in the Library in perpetuity. This initiative will prepare written transcripts of the GMP’s 40 GU272 oral histories to be transferred to the Library of Congress in 2022, along with the 40 underlying audio recordings. Together, these materials will provide the narrative arc, content, and context that will give life to GU272 datasets everywhere, and facilitate empathy and understanding at the human level.

Principal Investigators

Richard Cellini

Founder and Secretary, Georgetown Memory Project

Richard Cellini is the founder of the Georgetown Memory Project (GMP), Ltd., a nonprofit research institute headquartered in Cambridge, MA. The GMP gives people back their story. Founded in 2015, the GMP is dedicated to identifying and locating more than 272 enslaved people sold by Georgetown University and the Maryland Jesuits to southern Louisiana in 1838, and tracing their direct descendants (living and deceased). The GMP is an independent, self-funding effort, and receives no financial or organizational support from Georgetown University or the Maryland Jesuits. To date, the GMP has positively identified 232 of the enslaved GU272 Ancestors, and has traced more than 10,000 of their direct descendants. Richard has served as secretary (i.e., chief executive officer) of the Georgetown Memory Project on a strictly pro bono basis, since its founding in 2015. For the past 20 years, he has also worked as a senior executive with start-up and emerging companies in the software industry. He is presently serving as a Faculty Fellow at Harvard University's Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. Richard lives near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife Annabel and their two young children.

Ja'el Gordon

Interview Transcription Expert, Georgetown Memory Project

Louisiana native Ja’el Gordon is a historian and genealogist who specializes in interpreting antebellum history, genetic genealogy, and conducting oral history interviews. Always staying true to her Louisiana Creole and Cajun heritage, Ja’el has over fifteen years of experience as a professional researcher with a special focus on the Deep South. Her expertise includes repository research, collection curation, exhibition installations, transcribing and indexing, cemetery preservation, database management, and conducting genealogy and history-related workshops. As a researcher, Ja’el also provides historical interpretation work for plantation sites where she creates corrective narratives for slavery exhibits, lost plantations, and freetowns. She was recently selected as a Summer Fellow with the National Endowment for the Humanities’ week-long workshop entitled “From Clotilda to Community.” Ja’el holds a bachelor of arts in history from Southern University and A&M College at Baton Rouge and a master of arts in museum studies from Southern University New Orleans. She is presently a PhD candidate in higher education at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Linda Mann

Transcript Review and Revision Expert, Georgetown Memory Project

Linda Mann is a nationally recognized expert in developing, interpreting, and disseminating African American case studies and oral histories. She is the founder, leader, and managing director of the Georgetown Memory Project’s GU272 Descendant Oral History Initiative. Linda holds a PhD in education policy from George Mason University. Her scholarship focuses on the intersection of US history, human rights, and reparations. In 2018, Linda was awarded a research fellowship with Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR). As an Alliance for Historical Dialogue & Accountability Fellow, her work explored what restorative justice means to the descendants of enslaved peoples and advanced contemporary understanding of how institutions can make amends for their legacy ties to slavery. This research led to the creation of the African American Redress Network (AARN), a collaboration among Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and Howard University’s Thurgood Marshall Center, School of Law. AARN works to advance the movement for reparations for African American communities through research, education, and technical assistance to local grassroots organizations. Linda previously served as executive director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University’s School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts and director of clinical experiences at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Linda has longstanding ties to the Georgetown Memory Project. She is a veteran educator, a conflict resolution specialist, and a 20+ year grassroots organizer.

Cynthia Satterfield

Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Georgetown Memory Project

Cynthia Satterfield is a doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, and a direct descendant of some of the 272 enslaved people sold by Georgetown University and the Maryland Jesuits to southern Louisiana in 1838. As a skilled physician licensed both in California and at the national level, Cynthia focuses on the processes of healing in all its phases and phenomena. As a GU272 Descendant, she delves deeply into the past to demystify the origins of her family’s existences, and seeks restoration and transformation for historical injustices. As a member of the Georgetown Memory Project, Cynthia has made remarkable discoveries about her family’s past through documents, dialogues and story-tellings. Cynthia’s work with the GMP promotes the dignity of life and empowers individuals to contribute to society in a manner that is buoyant with truth, trust, and self-identity. In all phases of her work, Cynthia declares herself a descendant of the enslaved—those who labored ceaselessly and resiliently, constructing this prosperous country in spite of insufferable subjugation to injustices and the threat of death. Independently and in collaboration with colleagues, Cynthia fosters acceptance of cultural differences, achieving new foundations for freedoms, solidarity, and human rights. She believes that when history is explained with excellence and harmonious exploration, the virtue of happiness is abundantly manifested in the world.