Slavery and Emancipation in the Atlantic World

This guide will help you find resources relevant to this course.

Global Slavery

The Archives Wiki is sponsored by the American Historical Association. It is intended to be a clearinghouse of information about archival resources throughout the world. While it is primarily designed to be useful to historians and others doing historical research, they hope that researchers in many disciplines will find it useful.

The Bibliography of Slavery is a searchable database containing verified references (except as noted) to approximately 25,000 scholarly works in all academic disciplines and in all western European languages on slavery and slaving, worldwide and throughout human history, including modern times. It includes all known print materials published since 1900 in scholarly formats, as well as digital scholarly journals, recent unpublished presentations at academic conferences, professional historical sites, and major museum exhibitions and catalogs.

Slavery in the Atlantic World

This digital memorial raises questions about the largest slave trades in history and offers access to the documentation available to answer them. European colonizers turned to Africa for enslaved laborers to build the cities and extract the resources of the Americas. They forced millions of mostly unnamed Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas, and from one part of the Americas to another. Analyze these slave trades and view interactive maps, timelines, and animations to see the dispersal in action.

The American slavery debate occurred during a time of increasing connections among the continents and islands of the Atlantic Ocean:  an area that includes Europe, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Africa.  As such, it is useful and illuminating for historians to consider the ways in which contemporary individuals, events and trends of the Atlantic region influenced this contentious and long-running dialogue.

Explore the DAACS Website to learn more about enslaved Africans and their descendants, living in the Chesapeake, Carolinas, and Caribbean during the Colonial and Ante-Bellum Periods. Analyze and compare artifacts, deposits, and architectural plans from different sites at unprecedented levels of detail. Join researchers from different disciplines to discover the cultural dynamics of slave society in the early Atlantic World.

In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience presents a new interpretation of African-American history, one that focuses on the self-motivated activities of peoples of African descent to remake themselves and their worlds. Of the thirteen defining migrations that formed and transformed African America, only the transatlantic slave trade and the domestic slave trades were coerced, the eleven others were voluntary movements of resourceful and creative men and women, risk-takers in an exploitative and hostile environment.

The Abolition of the Slave Trade presents more than 8,000 pages of original essays, primary documents—books, pamphlets, articles, and illustrations—as well as secondary sources and original maps. The site is organized around eight themes that tell the forgotten story of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade to the United States and, more generally, to the Western Hemisphere.

The approximately 1,235 images in this collection have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public - in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World.

The Harriet Tubman Resource Centre Digital Archive is an initiative of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples at York University. It includes manuscripts, photographs, maps, and other material pertaining to the African diaspora drawn from Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has information on almost 35,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries. It offers researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of peoples in world history.

The Center's mission is to generate and disseminate scholarly knowledge on the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery pertaining to the Atlantic World.

Slavery in the U.S.

The Library of Congress American Memory site hosts numerous digital collections related to the history of slavery and abolition. Specific collections include The Frederick Douglass Papers, Slaves and the Courts, The Church in the Southern Black Community, First-Person Narratives of the American South, Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, and From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection.

Search America’s historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. The site includes digital copies of antislavery newspapers, such as the Freeman’s Champion and the Anti-Slavery Bugle, and numerous papers covering the slaveholding South.

The Digital Library on American Slavery offers data on race and slavery extracted from eighteenth and nineteenth-century documents and processed over a period of eighteen years. The Digital Library contains detailed information on about 150,000 individuals, including slaves, free people of color, and whites. These data have been painstakingly extracted from 2,975 legislative petitions and 14,512 county court petitions, and from a wide range of related documents, including wills, inventories, deeds, bills of sale, depositions, court proceedings, amended petitions, among others.

The African American Research guide posted by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) features numerous resources for the study of slavery and its aftermath in the United States. See especially: Records that pertain to American Slavery and the International Slave Trade.

Northern Visions of Race, Region & Reform is an online resource documenting conflicting representations of African-Americans, white Southerners, and reformers during and immediately after the Civil War. In particular, it looks at the stereotypes popularized in the northern press, and the ways that these depictions were countered–or in some cases, reinforced–in the letters written for northern readers by freedmen’s teachers and freedmen themselves.

A database of insurance policies on slave property, compiled from the records of present-day insurance companies under a law passed by the California State Legislature. The data includes slave names, slaveholder names, policy information, and government reports.

Lincoln Mullen created an interactive map of the spread of slavery in the United States from 1790 to 1860. Using Census data available from the NHGIS, the visualization shows the population of slaves, of free African Americans, of all free people, and of the entire United States. It also shows those subjects as population densities and percentages of the population. For any given variable, the scales are held constant from year to year so that the user can see change over time.

A collection of illustrations from Harper’s Weekly spanning the antebellum, Civil War, and reconstruction eras. Images are sorted thematically and chronologically and are sometimes accompanied by explanatory text.

Visualizing Emancipation is an ongoing mapping project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, that sheds light on when and where men and women became free in the Civil War South. It tells the complex story of emancipation by mapping documentary evidence of black men and women’s activities–using official military correspondence, newspapers, and wartime letters and diaries–alongside the movements of Union regiments and the shifting legal boundaries of slavery.

People Not Property is an interactive documentary about the history of Northern colonial enslavement produced by Historic Hudson Valley.


Slavery in Washington, D.C.

Civil War Washington examines the U.S. national capital from multiple perspectives as a case study of social, political, cultural and medical/scientific transitions provoked or accelerated by the Civil War. The project draws on the methods of many fields—literary studies, history, geography, computer-aided mapping—to create a digital resource that chronicles the war’s impact on the city.

This site documents the challenge to slavery and the quest for freedom in early Washington, D.C., by collecting, digitizing, making accessible, and analyzing freedom suits filed between 1800 and 1862, as well as tracing the multi-generational family networks they reveal.

Slavery in New York

Some of the highlights of these collections include the records of the New York Manumission Society and the African Free School, the diaries and correspondence of English abolitionists Granville Sharp and John Clarkson, the papers of the Boston anti-slavery activist Lysander Spooner, the records of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, the draft of Charles Sumner’s famous speech The Anti-Slavery Enterprise, and an account book kept by the slave trading firm Bolton, Dickens & Co.    

Slavery in Pennsylvania

Landscapes of Slavery and Freedom is a student-driven public history project developed through a partnership between the Public History track at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the Maryland State Archives. The site presents student projects exploring the struggle over slavery and freedom as it played out on the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The PAS Papers contain the records of the Society general meeting and various committees, financial papers, minutes, and legal papers related to cases taken on by the PAS, papers related to the documentation and education of the free black community, and the records of numerous anti-slavery societies.

The Valley of the Shadow is an electronic archive of two communities in the American Civil War - Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The Valley Web site includes searchable newspapers, population census data, agricultural census data, manufacturing census data, slave-owner census data, and tax records. The site also contains letters and diaries, images, maps, church records, and military rosters.

Slavery in Michigan

Theodore Foster and Rev. Guy Beckley launched the Signal of Liberty in April 1841 and managed to go to press nearly every week. The printing office was located on the second floor of Josiah Beckley’s mercantile shop on Broadway Avenue in Ann Arbor. Guy Beckley helped in his brother’s store and worked tirelessly to promote the newspaper. Theodore Foster was co-editor and publisher of the Signal of Liberty until 1848. Also included is the Michigan Liberty Press, published in Battle Creek.

Slavery in New England

The Dartmouth Slavery Project is situated at the juncture of two significant developments in the scholarship on slavery in the United States. The first encompasses the critical interrogation of a collective memory that not only disavowed the presence of enslaved persons in New England but cloaked its complicity with and profits from the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The second intellectual project is the recovery of the history of colleges’ and universities’ economic, intellectual, and moral entanglements with the institution of slavery.

The Antislavery Collection contains several hundred printed pamphlets and books pertaining to slavery and antislavery in New England, 1725-1911. The holdings include speeches, sermons, proceedings and other publications of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and the American Colonization Society, and a small number of pro-slavery tracts.

Slavery in Massachusetts

This student-developed project begins with a database of around 1900 Beacon Hill/West End African-Americans from 1848-1855, using city directories, the 1850 federal census, and Boston city tax records. These names are then linked with almost 500 sources from The Liberator which have been cataloged and digitized.

The Connecticut State Library Digital Collections include copies of the Charter Oak, Ultimatum, Free Soil Pioneer, and other rare antislavery newspapers. The library also maintains a database of African Americans and Native Americans listed in court cases between 1691 and 1855. Individuals can be the plaintiff, defendant, subject, or an individual mentioned in a lawsuit.

This website presents digital images of 840 visual materials from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society that illustrate the role of Massachusetts in the national debate over slavery. Included are photographs, paintings, sculptures, engravings, artifacts, banners, and broadsides that were central to the debate and the formation of the antislavery movement.

"This website features 117 items from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. This group of unique manuscripts and rare published materials includes handwritten documents and letters by African Americans (Phillis Wheatley and members of the Hartford family), the earliest antislavery pamphlet published in Massachusetts (The Selling of Joseph, printed in 1700), petitions of African Americans requesting freedom, documents certifying the freedom of specific individuals, materials relating to two African Americans involved in landmark legal cases that brought an end to slavery in Massachusetts (Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker), warrants and depositions for runaway slaves, bills of sale and account books documenting slave transactions, and a series of letters written in 1795 in which some notable men share their perspective on the history and end of slavery in Massachusetts."

Slavery in Connecticut

Connecticut History Online (CHO) is a digital collection of over 18,000 primary sources, together with associated interpretive and educational material. The collection includes the Charlotte and Samuel Cowles Correspondence (covering the Amistad rebels and abolitionism in Connecticut), broadsides, manumission papers, bills of sale, and other material pertaining to slavery and antislavery. is a digital humanities resource for the study of runaway slaves in Connecticut, conceived and executed by a Digital Humanities class at Wesleyan University. The site provides free access to a searchable database of runaway slave ads published in the Connecticut Courant, accompanied by scholarly content providing context and insight into slavery-era Connecticut.

Slavery in Southern U.S.

The ESSSS project, directed by Jane Landers and administered at Vanderbilt University, preserves and digitalizes endangered ecclesiastical and secular documents related to slavery in the Americas. While most of the documents contained here belong to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there are also some Cuban documents from the sixteenth century and Brazilian documents from the seventeenth.

Mapping Occupation, by Gregory P. Downs and Scott Nesbit, captures the regions where the United States Army could effectively act as an occupying force in the Reconstruction South. For the first time, it presents the basic nuts-and-bolts facts about the Army’s presence, movements that are central to understanding the occupation of the South. That data in turn reorients our understanding of the Reconstruction that followed Confederate surrender.

The Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina encourages the study and appreciation of the history and culture of the American South by collecting, preserving and promoting the use of unique documentary materials of enduring historical value. Digitized material includes the Sarah Frances Hicks Williams Letters, Slavery Papers, and Slavery Justification Essays.

A selection of 100 recorded oral history interviews chronicling African-American life during the age of legal segregation in the American South, from the 1890s to the 1950s.

Slavery in Louisiana

A database of information about African slave names, genders, ages, occupations, illnesses, family relationships, ethnicity, places of origin, prices paid by slave owners, and slaves’ testimony and emancipations. This material was compiled and organized by Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, based on her research in Louisiana, France, Spain, and Texas.

Free people of color–people of African descent who lived in colonial and antebellum America and were born free or escaped the bonds of slavery before it was abolished in 1865–made significant contributions to the economies and cultures of the communities in which they lived but held an anomalous status in the racial hierarchy of the day.  Inhabiting this place in between made their ambiguous and incongruent status one of the most talked about “problems” of the first half of the nineteenth century, yet their story has been largely overshadowed by the harsh story of slavery.

Slavery in the Carolinas

Aimed at historians and aspiring historians of slave emancipation and its aftermath, the site is a collaborative work-in-progress involving a team of four scholars based in the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom, whose current research is focused on labor, race and citizenship in the post-emancipation Carolinas.

The North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements project provides online access to all known runaway slave advertisements (more than 2300 items) published in North Carolina newspapers from 1751 to 1840. These brief ads provide a glimpse into the social, economic, and cultural world of the American slave system and the specific experience within North Carolina.

The Buncombe County Register of Deeds office has kept property records since the late 1700’s. In our records one can find a wealth of information about the history of our community. On this page, we have compiled a list of the documents that record the trade of people as slaves in Buncombe County. These people were considered “property” prior to end of the Civil War; therefore these transfers were recorded in the Register of Deeds office.

Race and Slavery Petitions Project; NC Runaway Slave Advertisements; Slave Deeds of North Carolina; Slavery Era Insurance Registries; etc. at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Slavery in Texas

The Texas Runaway Slave Project (TRSP) began in December 2012 at Stephen F. Austin State University. Since then, more than 10,000 Texas newspaper issues, published prior to 1865, have been indexed, from which the information and materials for the project will be gathered.

Centered on a database of slave and slaveholder populations in Texas during the Republic era (1837-45), the Texas Slavery Project offers a window into the role slavery played in the development of Texas in the years before the region became part of the United States. Dynamic interactive maps show the changing flows of enslaved and slaveholder populations in Texas over time. The population database search engine allows users to discover the growth of slave and slaveholder populations in the region. Digitized original documents from the era provide an opportunity to hear the voices of those who lived with slavery in early Texas.

Slavery in Virginia

The Electronic Text Center’s Liberian Letters consists of two collections of letters written by former slaves from Virginia who settled in Liberia: Samson Ceasar’s letters to David S. Haselden and Henry F. Westfall, 1834-1835 and Letters from the former slaves of James Hunter Terrell, 1857-1866.

The Geography of Slavery in Virginia is a digital collection of advertisements for runaway and captured slaves and servants in 18th- and 19th-century Virginia newspapers. Building on the rich descriptions of individual slaves and servants in the ads, the project offers a personal, geographical and documentary context for the study of slavery in Virginia, from colonial times to the Civil War.

The Valley of the Shadow is an electronic archive of two communities in the American Civil War - Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The Valley Web site includes searchable newspapers, population census data, agricultural census data, manufacturing census data, slave-owner census data, and tax records. The site also contains letters and diaries, images, maps, church records, and military rosters.

This website displays research into the lives of 431 enslaved people in seven multi-generational families at Mesopotamia plantation in Jamaica and Mount Airy plantation in Virginia.

The website now includes a searchable database of nearly 3700 Virginia emigrants to Liberia and nearly 250 Virginia emancipators, a timeline of relevant events and documents between 1787 and 1866, a compilation of important related sources, links to related research websites and news of Liberia today.

Explore Mount Vernon’s wealth of Primary source documents, objects, and images to discover new information about George Washington, Mount Vernon, and people of the 18th century

Overview of auction houses and slave jails. Digital Scholarship Lab, University of Richmond.

Slavery in Maryland

Landscapes of Slavery and Freedom is a student-driven public history project developed through a partnership between the Public History track at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the Maryland State Archives. The site presents student projects exploring the struggle over slavery and freedom as it played out on the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania.

This program seeks to preserve and promote the vast universe of experiences that have shaped the lives of Maryland’s African American population. From the day that Mathias de Sousa and Francisco landed in St. Mary’s county aboard the Ark and the Dove in 1634, Black Marylanders have made significant contributions to both the state and nation in the political, economic, agricultural, legal, and domestic arenas.

Founded in 1844, the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) is the state’s oldest continuously operating cultural institution. Online collections include numerous documents and images pertaining to the history of slavery within the state. The site also includes a complete digital copy of the Maryland State Colonization Society Papers, 1827-1871.

Slavery in Caribbean

The Martinique Digital Heritage Bank features a slave ancestry database with genealogical information. The database includes the 1848 register originally intended to establish the marital status of the liberated population and to assign family names to former slaves. There are also many archeological and architectural images from the island.

Over 1,200 images, maps and texts from the 18th and 19th centuries reveal contrasting experiences of life in the former British colonies. Hosted by the British Library.

The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) is a cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean. dLOC provides access to digitized versions of Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials currently held in archives, libraries, and private collections.

An original project supported by the French Atlantic History Group (McGill University, Mellon Foundation) in collaboration with the Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines of the Université de Sherbrooke, « Marronnage in Saint-Domingue (Haïti) » is an electronic interface meant to decompartementalise the archives of slavery in the French Atlantic world.

Resources dedicated to the history of Saint-Barthelemy: slave trade, slavery, their abolition and impact on this island of the Lesser Antilles. Available in English, French, and Swedish.

This animated thematic map narrates the spatial history of the greatest slave insurrection in the eighteenth century British Empire.  To teachers and researchers, the presentation offers a carefully curated archive of key documentary evidence.  To all viewers, the map suggests an argument about the strategies of the rebels and the tactics of counterinsurgency, about the importance of the landscape to the course of the uprising, and about the difficulty of representing such events cartographically with available sources.

This site uses a blogging format to showcase excerpts from letters written by Simon Taylor (1738-1813), a slaveholder and plantation owner who lived in Jamaica during a period characterized by revolution, war, and imperial reform. ‘Slavery and Revolution’ is a free resource and open to anyone. The material on the site is intended for use by academics, students, and others to use in their research, teaching, and learning.

This project offers a research tool in two parts: a) a guide to archival sources on the Dutch colonies in the Caribbean World and b) a summary of the relevant laws and regulations of the period. The guide to archival sources covers collections in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Curaçao, Suriname and Guyana, especially those that might contain information about slavery and multicultural relations.

The Louverture Project (TLP) collects and promotes knowledge, analysis, and understanding of the Haitian revolution of 1791–1804. This unique history project follows the example of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, and is committed to creating a vast, accessible, and useful open content resource.

Slavery in Canada

This collection is a pilot project to digitize back files of community newspapers in Ontario. It includes searchable digital scans of two important expatriate journals, the Voice of the Fugitive (1851-1852) and the Provincial Freeman (1853-1857).

This portal is an open site providing an online digital textbook and a full collection of resources for the study of slavery in Canadian history. Although designed for primary and secondary students, the site is open to researchers of all ages.

Under a Northern Star presents seven unique collections held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) that document the diverse historical experience of African Canadians. The collections include historical papers that contextualize the life and work of persons who fought against slavery and racism, built settlements, and flourished as early Canadians.

Nova Scotia Archives exhibit on 10,000 Black people came to Nova Scotia between 1749 and 1816, as noted in 1783 "Book of Negroes".

Slavery in Europe

This project aims to analyze the evolution of the Black African population in Spain, centered on the peninsula but studying certain aspects of colonial America, examining the etnohistorical documentation preserved in Spanish Archives, iconographical representations and their presence in literature. Includes primary documents and bibliographies.

Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, is home to tens of thousands of documents and images pertaining to slavery, the slave trade, and abolition. The database hosts an especially strong collection of material related to French Saint-Domingue and the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804.

At the core of the completed project is this online Encyclopedia of British Slave-ownership containing information about every slave-owner in the British Caribbean, Mauritius or the Cape at the moment of abolition in 1833. Entries include information about the activities, affiliations and legacies of these men and women, with a particular emphasis on the “absentee” owners based in Britain.

This Research Guide offers an introduction to the history of the British transatlantic slave trade and its abolition. It gives an overview of the major original sources in British archive collections. The Guide is the first in a series covering different aspects of the complex history of the slave trade, slavery and unfree labor in the British Caribbean and American colonies in more detail. It will help researchers to identify which area of the subject they wish to focus on and where to look for more detailed information.

The Runaway Slaves in Eighteenth-Century Britain project has created a searchable database of well over eight hundred newspaper advertisements placed by masters and owners seeking the capture and return of enslaved and bound people who had escaped. Many were of African descent, though a small number were from the Indian sub-continent and a few were Indigenous Americans. To the enslaved flight represented one of the greatest acts of self-determination, and some historians have argued that runaways challenged the slave system from within and contributed to their own and others' eventual emancipation.

Revealing Histories is a partnership of eight museums and galleries in Greater Manchester. We came together in 2007 to commemorate the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade in 1807 and to explore the legacy of slavery in our collections, in our communities and in our region. Slavery is part of our shared history that still impacts on our lives today.

Slavery and Slave Trade in West Africa

The collection consists of items related to the British administration of Sierra Leone, including public and private papers of British officials in the colony of Sierra Leone, 1792-1825. Drawn from the Sierra Leone Collection at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

From the Bibliothèque Commémorative Mama Haidara in Timbuktu, Mali, a collection of 19th century manuscripts relating to slavery and manumission in Timbuktu. The materials, in Arabic, provide documentation on Africans in slavery in Muslim societies.

In association with an exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands, BBC News published a piece on the Krio people of Sierra Leone, descendants of formerly enslaved Africans who fought for the British during the American Revolution. The piece explores the history of the Krio people and goes into more detail about some of exhibition's displays.

AH_digITalPortal project will curate electronic and digitized copies of historical documents and field research materials, archives, and other sources of information that scholars & researchers of Africa have collected over many years of their work. These resources will include copies of field notes, manuscripts, rare books, magazines, pamphlets, pictures and images, and transcripts of interviews, songs, and other audio and visual documents covering periods from before colonization of Africa up until the recent past.

Settlers in Liberia

The Electronic Text Center’s Liberian Letters consists of two collections of letters written by former slaves from Virginia who settled in Liberia: Samson Ceasar’s letters to David S. Haselden and Henry F. Westfall, 1834-1835 and Letters from the former slaves of James Hunter Terrell, 1857-1866.

Liberiapedia is dedicated to preserving Liberias historical legacy and heritage. Featured collections include a glossary of Liberian English, an index of legislative acts, a collection of folk tales, and a detailed database of immigrants, 1820-1904.

The website now includes a searchable database of nearly 3700 Virginia emigrants to Liberia and nearly 250 Virginia emancipators, a timeline of relevant events and documents between 1787 and 1866, a compilation of important related sources, links to related research websites and news of Liberia today.