Slavery and Emancipation in the Atlantic World

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

Newspapers and Periodicals

US Newspapers

US and International Newspapers

Primary Source Databases

Biography & Narratives

The Black Abolitionist Digital Archive is a collection of over 800 speeches by antebellum blacks and approximately 1,000 editorials from the period. These important documents provide a portrait of black involvement in the anti-slavery movement; scans of these documents are provided as images and PDF files. The University of Detroit Mercy Libraries/IDS has enhanced this collection by including readings of some of the works and an immersive site in Second Life.

Black Loyalist is a repository of historical data about the African American loyalist refugees who left New York between April and November 1783 and whose names are recorded in the Book of Negroes. In this first stage, the site concentrates on providing biographical and demographic information for the largest cohort, about 1000 people from Norfolk Virginia and surrounding counties.

Hosted by the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University. The collection includes correspondence, sermons, lectures, newspapers, news clippings, and family memorabilia created by, or related to, Lovejoy and his family. The collection bulks with correspondence (1824-1853) and concerns abolition, temperance, religion, and theology.

Freedom’s Journal provided international, national, and regional information on current events and contained editorials declaiming slavery, lynching, and other injustices. The Journal also published biographies of prominent African-Americans and listings of births, deaths, and marriages in the African-American New York community.

In December 1999, to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the hanging of John Brown in Charles Town, West Virginia, the West Virginia State Archives placed online a new electronic database of materials pertaining to Brown from the Boyd B. Stutler Collection. A recognized authority on the man, Boyd Stutler (1889-1970) created one of the most important John Brown collections in existence. The State of West Virginia acquired this body of material in 1977.

Norton Strange Townshend (1815-1895) had a long and multi-faceted career in politics, medicine, social reform, and agricultural education. His accomplishments included antislavery activism, political involvement at the local level and in the U.S. House of Representatives, work on the Underground Railroad, a role as a Medical Inspector in the Civil War, and advocacy of scientific training for farmers. This online exhibit illuminates many aspects of Townshend’s career and life through biographical information and digitally scanned manuscripts, images, and printed materials.

Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network is an open access data repository of information on the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic World. It includes the names, ethnicities, skills, occupations, and illnesses of individual slaves. Phase one of a multi-phase project is presented here. Users of the website can access data about slaves in colonial Louisiana and Maranhão, Brazil. They can download datasets, search for ancestors, and run statistical analysis.

SlaveryStories is an open source project that anyone can contribute to. Let’s make these stories easier to find and present them in a design that’s more pleasurable to read. Download the stories or contribute new ones so that we can work together to preserve this essential history.

Freedom Narratives focuses on the enforced migration of enslaved Africans in the Atlantic world during the era of the slave trade from the 16th to the 19th century. The biographical accounts included here include the testimonies and stories of individuals born in West Africa whose voices have long been silenced. This digital repository of autobiographical testimonies and biographical data establishes where people came from, why they were enslaved, whether or not they freed themselves, and what happened to them.

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.

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves.

In 1870, Rev. Samuel Joseph May's materials went to Cornell U. Library, documenting anti-slavery struggles. Sermons, position papers, offprints, newsletters, anthologies, freedmen's testimonies, broadsides, and Anti-Slavery Fair keepsakes document the abolitionist movement.

This bibliography enumerates all separately published autobiographical texts in English produced by slaves or former slaves. Regardless of the degree to which a narrative may discuss slavery, if that narrative was written or dictated by someone who was born a slave or who experienced enslavement, that text is included in the following bibliography.

The recordings of former slaves in Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine states. Twenty-three interviewees discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom.

Anti-Slavery Movements

The Black Abolitionist Digital Archive is a collection of over 800 speeches by antebellum blacks and approximately 1,000 editorials from the period. These important documents provide a portrait of black involvement in the anti-slavery movement; scans of these documents are provided as images and PDF files. The University of Detroit Mercy Libraries/IDS has enhanced this collection by including readings of some of the works and an immersive site in Second Life.

ColoredConventions.org endeavors to transform teaching and learning about this historic collective organizing effort—and about the many leaders and places involved in it—bringing them to digital life for a new generation of undergraduate and graduate students and researchers across disciplines, for high school teachers, and for community members interested in the history of church, educational and entrepreneurial engagement.

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. The Society hosts a similar site on African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts.

A large collection of material culled from the Haverford and Swarthmore College Libraries. It contains hundreds of images and manuscripts pertaining to the history of slavery and abolition, including letters by Elihu Burrit, Granville Sharp, Lucretia Mott, and Thomas Clarkson, with special emphasis on Quaker involvement in the antislavery movement. The Quakers & Slavery companion site offers additional information.

This site looks at those who fought for the ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the emancipation of enslaved Africans in the British colonies. The site has been designed to provide background information, lesson ideas and tools for teachers and learners.

The Antislavery Literature Project, established in 2003, is based in the Arizona State University’s English department and works in cooperation with the EServer, located at Iowa State University. As an educational non-profit, the Project provides public access to the literature and history of the antislavery movement in the United States. It does so by research; production and annotation of electronic editions; and delivery of texts via the Internet.

Friend of Man is one of the most significant and little studied newspapers documenting early anti-slavery and other reform movements. The periodical is of special significance because with the exception of religion, scholars know little about the resources of social movements in rural areas such as Central New York, where Friend of Man was published.

This site features original manuscripts and transcriptions of letters by Hiram Wilson, an abolitionist who worked among fugitive slaves in the United States and Canada. The letters range from 1842 to 1861 and cover all aspects of Wilson’s career as an activist, educator, and missionary. The site was created by history students at Huron University College in Ontario.

This is a complete online archive of full issues of William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper The Liberator (1831-1865), the most prominent periodical of radical Abolitionism in the United States of America. You can find scanned PDF documents of full issues of The Liberator, as well as a number of individual articles, columns and departments from the magazine that have been transcribed in HTML for ease of reading, searching, and linking.

Numbering over 10,000 titles, May’s collected pamphlets, leaflets, sermons, position papers, offprints, local Anti-Slavery Society newsletters, poetry anthologies, freedmen’s testimonies, broadsides, and Anti-Slavery Fair keepsakes all document the social and political implications of the abolitionist movement. The accompanying manuscript collection includes the correspondence of Lydia Maria Child.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

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.

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.

Part of a leading digital humanities database project co-managed by Dr Radburn, the recreation of the French ship, ‘L’Aurore’, will be used in classrooms, museums, galleries and family historians worldwide. Between 1500 and 1867, some 40,000 voyages carried 12.5 million Africans to the Americas, where they were sold into slavery. The only remaining set of plans of a slave ship are for the ‘Aurore’. Those plans shaped the 3D model.

Georgetown University announced its acquisition of a logbook for a slave ship called Mary, which sailed from Providence, Rhode Island to West Africa to Savannah, Georgia in 1795-1796. Georgetown digitized the logbook and has made it accessible online.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has information on almost 36,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The actual number is estimated to have been as high as 12.5 million. The database and the separate estimates interface offer researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of peoples in world history.

Runaways, Rebels, and Resistance

The Documenting Runaway Slaves (DRS) research project is a collaborative effort to compile and make available newspaper advertisements placed by masters seeking the capture and return of runaway slaves. This project will gather these documents into a single text-based repository, from the U.S. South to the Caribbean and eventually to Brazil and beyond, and will organize them into standardized, full-text searchable online resources for academic researchers, genealogists and anyone who wants to learn more about the Atlantic world in the era of slavery.

Placed in the context of the Civil War and Reconstruction with the aid of original essays, the documents uncovered by the project’s editors are presented in Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867. A total of nine volumes of Freedom is projected. Sample documents from each published volume and a chronology of emancipation are available online.

This project is designing and beginning data collection for a database that will compile all North American slave runaway ads and make them available for statistical, geographical, textual, and other forms of analysis. Some elements of data collection will be crowdsourced, engendering a public sense of co-participation in the process of recording history, and producing a living pedagogical tool for instructors at all levels, in multiple disciplines.

These case files consist of 301 legal petitions for freedom by people of color originally filed in St. Louis courts between 1814 and 1860. They make up the largest corpus of freedom suits currently available to researchers in the United States.

The goal is to make an original contribution to U.S. history by documenting, for scholars and general audiences alike, the accomplishments of John Horse and the Black Seminoles. These maroon warriors, descendants of free blacks and fugitive slaves in the American South, led the largest slave revolt in American history, influenced Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation movement, and were the most successful black freedom fighters in the U.S. prior to the Civil War.

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.

Legal

These case files consist of 301 legal petitions for freedom by people of color originally filed in St. Louis courts between 1814 and 1860. They make up the largest corpus of freedom suits currently available to researchers in the United States.

Transcriptions of the records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. The Bureau supervised all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen, including issuing rations, clothing and medicine. The Bureau also assumed custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory. Documents are arranged by state and include criminal, labor, and marriage records.

This collection is an expanded and updated version of the original Dred Scott Case Collection. The collection was expanded from eighty-five to one hundred and eleven documents, over 400 pages of text. In addition, the collection is now a full-text, searchable resource that represents the full case history of the Dred Scott Case.

This HeinOnline collection brings together a multitude of essential legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world. This includes every statute passed by every colony and state on slavery, every federal statute dealing with slavery, and all reported state and federal cases on slavery. The library has hundreds of pamphlets and books written about slavery—defending it, attacking it or simply analyzing it. The collection includes every English-language legal commentary on slavery published before 1920, which includes many essays and articles in obscure, hard-to-find journals in the United States and elsewhere. There are more than a thousand pamphlets and books on slavery from the 19th century.

This collection consists of 105 library books and manuscripts, totaling approximately 8,700 pages drawn principally from the Law Library and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, with a few from the General Collections. The documents comprise an assortment of trials and cases, reports, arguments, accounts, examinations of cases and decisions, proceedings, journals, a letter, and other works of historical importance. Most of the items date from the nineteenth century and include materials associated with the Dred Scott case and the abolitionist activities of John Brown, John Quincy Adams, and William Lloyd Garrison.

Literature

The Antislavery Literature Project, established in 2003, is based in the Arizona State University’s English department and works in cooperation with the EServer, located at Iowa State University. As an educational non-profit, the Project provides public access to the literature and history of the antislavery movement in the United States. It does so by research; production and annotation of electronic editions; and delivery of texts via the Internet.

A pioneering collection of digital material providing literary, cultural, and historical context on Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), possibly the most significant antislavery novel of all time. Although the site remains active, the interface is somewhat dated.