Visiting Scholar in the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History
Richard Cellini is an attorney-advocate, scholar, and non-profit leader. His slavery research is driven by one central question: What happened to the people?
In 2015, Richard founded the independent, self-funding Georgetown Memory Project (www.georgetownmemoryproject.org). The GMP gives people back their story.
The GMP’s mission is to identify 314 enslaved people sold by Georgetown University and the Maryland Jesuits to southern Louisiana in 1838 (the “GU272 Ancestors”), and to trace their direct descendants. Under Richard’s leadership, the GMP has positively identified 232 of the GU272 Ancestors, and has traced more than 10,000 of their direct descendants. More than 6,000 descendants are alive today. The GMP’s Mayflower-quality genealogical data is updated regularly, and shared with researchers and the general public at https://gu272.americanancestors.org. The GMP’s research and public advocacy work has been chronicled widely by The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/us/georgetown-university-search-for-s...), and dozens of other media organizations worldwide.
As a public historian, Richard explores and exposes the institutional, legal, economic, and commercial arrangements that enabled Jesuit slaveholding in Maryland from the 17th to 19th Centuries. He also identifies and documents the major financial beneficiaries of Jesuit slaveholding and slave-trading in the United States, including leading Roman Catholic educational institutions still in existence today.
Richard writes and speaks widely on reparations and the legacy of slavery. In 2019, he delivered a groundbreaking, university-wide lecture at Sewanee (the University of the South) entitled: Slavery & The Old School Tie: Shouldering Responsibility for Alma Mater’s Role in the Slave Trade (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2SjH9Wduz4).
Since 2019, Richard has served as a Councilor of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. In 2018, he received the Frederick Douglass Service Award of the Sons & Daughters of the U.S. Middle Passage. In 2016, he was named to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Ten Most Influential” list.
Richard received his BA and JD from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He earned a master’s degree in Medieval English Legal History from the University of Cambridge (UK). He spent more than 25 years working as a senior executive in New England’s high-technology sector.
Richard is a member of the Knights of Peter Claver, the largest fraternal service order for Black Catholics in the United States. He lives with his wife Annabel and their two young children in Cambridge, MA, and Pomfret, VT.
25 Quincy Street - Warren Center, Emerson Hall, 4th floor