What is the impact of racial slavery on African Americans in the United States today, and how might methodologies from the social sciences and humanities help to illuminate this impact? In 2019, the Social Science Research Council established American Slavery’s Legacy across Space and Time, a special project of the Council’s Inequality Initiative, that attempts to answer these questions through the case of the GU 272 descendants — the individuals who trace their ancestry to the African men and women owned and then sold by Georgetown University. By combining qualitative social science with big-data methodologies alongside a community-engaged approach, this project aims to bring to light in unprecedented detail how an entire community was transformed by the United States’ legacy of slavery, while also establishing ethical norms and standards for similar emerging research. 

The SSRC invites proposals for small grants of up to $25,000 to support the establishment or facilitation of projects that explore the ongoing social, economic, political, and cultural impacts of slavery in the contemporary United States, through the lens of the GU 272 and their descendants. We seek proposals for projects that aim to contribute substantially to our understanding of the underlying mechanisms driving racial inequality over generations and at different scales: not simply at the geographic or structural level, but also at the individual and family levels. This program is particularly interested in projects that foreground community-academic collaboration. 

Small grant funds are intended to support a diverse range of activities relevant to the production, collation, and dissemination of information relevant to the GU 272 and their descendants, including but not limited to:

  • Archival and/or oral history research
  • Archive creation and management (including digital platforms)
  • Museum exhibition development and curation
  • Academic course development
  • Publication projects

Applicants are encouraged to apply only for the amount of funding their teams will realistically need in a 12-month period, and funding will be assessed on the relative scale and needs of the proposed project. For instance, grants may be offered for one component of a larger proposed project. We expect applicants’ project plans, methodologies, and budgets to reflect the realities of restrictions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic — for instance, through the creative use of virtual methods for meetings or data collection and emphasizing limited travel, where possible. 

Eligibility and Criteria 

This competition is open to individuals and small teams of up to 5 researchers. Our definition of “research” is broadly defined to accommodate library and archival practitioners, community researchers, artists, social activists, journalists, and academic scholars from the social sciences to the humanities and data science. We strongly encourage proposals that bridge academic-community divides, as well as projects that encourage interdisciplinary and/or combined qualitative/quantitative approaches. Preference may be given to applicants from historically under-resourced institutions, and to projects embedded in the GU 272 descendant community. 

Proposals will be evaluated by a multidisciplinary selection panel based on their strength with regards to innovative ideas, research plan, methods, and proposed outputs. The selection panel will also consider elements such as the project’s feasibility under current research constraints and demonstrated commitment to ethical community engagement. Successful applicants are required to contribute at least one brief essay to SSRC’s digital forum Items: Insights from the Social Sciences. 

How to Apply

The deadline for applications is June 15, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. All applications must be submitted using the online application portal. The project leader must complete the online form and upload all required documents on behalf, and with the consent, of the research team.

A complete application includes:

  • Online application form
  • Research proposal (up to 6 pages, double-spaced, including bibliography). Click here to view proposal requirements.
  • Current CV/resume of the project leader and up to three team members, where relevant (up to 2 pages). CVs should include the following details: education and employment history, relevant research and/or practical experience, honors and awards, professional affiliations. Where applicable, CVs/resumes may include a list of no more than three relevant publications.
  • Proposed budget, consisting of a budget outline and a brief budget narrative (up to two pages).

For details about application requirements and other useful information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Please contact program staff at president@ssrc.org if you have additional questions or for further guidance in preparing your application.