Jesse Bayker

Jesse Bayker photograph

Scarlet and Black Research Center
at the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice
Rutgers University–New Brunswick

Office: Rutgers Academic Building – West Wing, 6th floor, Room 6101
located at 15 Seminary Pl., New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Dr. Jesse Bayker is the Digital Archivist / Research Project Manager at the Scarlet and Black Research Center. The center is a part of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

Dr. Bayker curates the Scarlet and Black Digital Archive, which uses historical primary sources to shed light on the legacy of slavery and dispossession at Rutgers University. He has contributed chapters to two volumes of the Scarlet and Black book series published by Rutgers University Press. His research for Scarlet and Black, Volume 1, focused on the lived experiences of enslaved individuals in Rutgers history. For Scarlet and Black, Volume 3, he wrote about the Black student protest movement at Rutgers­–Camden. He is now collaborating to preserve Camden history through the Black Camden Oral History Project. He maintains Black Voices at Rutgers, a digital portal for African American oral histories with a focus on Rutgers and life in New Jersey.

Dr. Bayker leads the Rutgers team in our partnership with On These Grounds: Slavery and the University. As part of this cross-institutional digital initiative, he contributes to the creation of a linked open data model for organizing, publishing, and sharing information about the history of enslavement found in archival materials at colleges and universities throughout the country. Funded by the Mellon Foundation, the initiative is led by Michigan State University, with core partners at Georgetown University and the University of Virginia. Dr. Bayker is developing the New Jersey Slavery Records project using the On These Grounds data model.

In addition to his work on African American history in New Jersey, Dr. Bayker researches transgender history. He is writing a book about transgender lives and practices in the era before medical technologies for gender transition became accessible in the United States. His article “Some Very Queer Couples: Gender Migrants and Intimacy in Nineteenth-Century America” appeared in the journal Gender & History and received honorable mention for the 2022 Audre Lorde Prize from the Committee on LGBT History. His chapter “Regulating Public Gender and the Rise of Cross-Dressing Laws” is forthcoming in The Cambridge History of Sexuality in the United States, co-edited by Jen Manion and Nick Syrett. He created the Cross-Dressing Laws Map as a digital supplement to this chapter.

Dr. Bayker received a PhD in History from Rutgers University and a BA in History and LGBTQ Studies from CUNY Brooklyn College. He completed a Mellon Fellowship at the Museum of the City of New York where he worked to interpret urban history and material culture for diverse audiences.

News and presentations

New Jersey Slavery Records news

Launching the New Jersey Slavery Records Database, September 30, 2022

Scarlet & Black selected as testing partner for On These Grounds digital initiative, July 8, 2021

Black Camden Oral History Project news

Black Camden Oral History Project featured in Rutgers Alumni News, January 10, 2022: Preserving Perspectives.

Interview about the project in the summer 2022 issue of Rutgers Magazine: The Oral History of Camden.

Visit the project website:

Beyond the Dream: LGBTQ+ Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement

Webinar at Rutgers–Camden

Rutgers Experience in Studying Slavery and the Development of the Scarlet and Black Project

Panel at Emory University’s symposium In the Wake of Slavery and Dispossession.