Slavery, Race, and Reconstruction at Trinity College

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The Founding of Washington College Bicentennial Reports

About the Project

The Primus Project aspires to tell a truer and fuller story of Trinity’s history than most people knowThe project explores the ways Trinity College—the institution and individuals associated with it—engaged with systems of slavery and white supremacy. It is a research-driven, community-based initiative to better understand the college’s past and forge a more just and inclusive present. By conducting archival research, making primary materials available online, and ultimately producing a report of our findings, we aim to uncover a hidden past and engage the broader community in a deeper understanding of our history. 

We also will investigate ways to make our campus more equitable by communicating our findings to the several College committees reconsidering building names; re-examining ways we commemorate individuals; and initiating efforts to reimagine the lived relationships between the campus and its broader community today. In doing so we hope to fuel discussion throughout the Trinity community about the College’s identity and its future.  As our bicentennial approaches, the Primus Project aims to steer the college toward Reconstruction—the fulfillment of Trinity’s unrealized potential to educate people equitably, fuel their self-determination, and expand their power to change the world.  Learn more.

Who Is Rebecca Primus?

Rebecca Primus was born in Hartford in 1836. She lived on Wadsworth Street, about half a mile from Washington College, which would soon change its name to Trinity. Primus’s great-grandfather had been stolen from Africa, enslaved in England’s North American colonies, and ultimately liberated for his military service in the Revolutionary War. Rebecca Primus had no access to the educational institution up the street from her home, but by the time Trinity moved to its current location in the 1870s, she had created her own educational institution. Learn more.

About the Header Image

The header image depicts Trinity College’s original campus around the year 1870. The building in the foreground is Jarvis Hall, and the structure beyond it (with columns) is Seabury Hall. Both stood from 1825 until 1878, when Trinity moved to its current location. The photographer is unknown. Trinity College Archives.