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Library Resource Guide for: HISTORY (AMERICAN)

Slavery and the Slave Trade in American History

Although relegated to the background as a topic for historical study in our own times, slavery dominated every aspect of American life from 1619, when the first slaves arrived in Virginia, through the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and Reconstruction.

This page pulls together a set of resources through which to begin entering the world of that earlier America where the threads of slavery were the warp in the fabric of America culture -- from commerce to theatre, from agriculture to fine arts.

Subscription Databases:

American Civil War: Letters and Diaries  full text icon  
Ongoing; this database knits together more than 1,000 sources of diaries, letters, and memoirs to provide fast access to thousands of views on almost every aspect of the war, including what was happening at home. The writings of politicians, generals, slaves, landowners, farmers, seaman, wives, and even spies are included. The letters and diaries are by the famous and the unknown, giving not only both the Northern and Southern perspectives, but those of foreign observers also.

American Slavery: A Composite Autobiography  full text icon  
2000 edition; a study of the WPA slave narratives. A massive historical collection, it includes complete records for each narrative identifying the narrator, his or her year of birth, and the county and state where the narrator was in bondage.

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice  full text icon  
1490-2007; Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice is a portal for slavery and abolition studies, bringing together documents and collections covering more than five centuries from libraries and archives across the Atlantic world and the Mediterranean with contextual essays by prominent scholars in the field. Close attention is given to the varieties of slavery, the legacy of slavery, the social justice perspective and the continuing existence of slavery today.

Digital Resources:

African American Sheet Music, 1820-1920
A wide selection of American sheet music from the John Hay Library pertaining to African Americans, documenting American popular culture of the time -- minstrelsy, the Abolition movement, the Civil War, Emancipation, Rag Time and early Jazz. Includes and extended bibliography.

Voyage of the Slave Ship Salley, 1764-1765
A compilation of documents from the Brown Family Papers at the John Carter Brown Library and the Rhode Island Historical Society that traces the trajectory of a single slaving voyage operated by Captain Esek Hopkins under the direction and on behalf of the four Brown brothers.

Repository of Historical Documents on Brown University and Slavery
A product of the work of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, the repository contains digital versions of a wide array of historical documents from the Brown University Archives, the Brown Family Papers collection at the John Carter Brown Library, and the Rhode Island Historical Society that pertain to the history of Brown University's involvement in slavery and the slave trade.

Microform Resources:

Race, Slavery and Free Blacks (Series II)
A microfilm set containing more than 15,000 petitions by African Americans to Southern county courts, compiled from the archives of various Southern states. The Library currently holds all six subseries, divided geographically as follows:

Part A:
-- Georgia (1796-1867)
-- Florida (1821-1867)
-- Alabama (1821-1867)
-- Mississippi (1822-1867)

Part B:
-- Maryland (1775-1866)
-- Delaware (1779-1857)
-- District of Columbia (1803-1855)

Part C:
-- Virginia (1775-1867)
-- Kentucky (1790-1864)

Part D:
-- North Carolina (1775-1867)
-- South Carolina (1784-1867)

Part E:
-- Arkansas (1824-1867)
-- Missouri (1806-1860)
-- Texas (1830-1867)
-- Tennessee (1792-1868)

Part F:
-- Louisiana (1795-1863)

» Rock Micro E441 .R272x

Records of Antebellum Southern Plantations,
Compiled by Kenneth M. Stamp, this microfilm set comprises plantation records from the American Revolution through the Civil War. The Brown University Library holds four of the six subseries, consisting of 78 reels of film in all, as follows:

Series A. Selections from the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina.
--- Part 1. Papers of James Henry Hammond, 1795-1865 (15 reels)
--- Part 2. Miscellaneous collections (26 reels)
Series B. Selections from the South Carolina Historical Society (10 reels).
Series C. Selections from holdings of the Library of Congress (13 reels).
Series D. Selections from holdings of the Maryland Historical Society (14 reels).

» Rock Micro F213 .R42x

Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865
17 reels . This collection constitutes the largest single collection of materials touching the abolition movement from an African-American perspective. It includes approximately 15,000 articles and documents of nearly 300 black abolitionists in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Germany and includes:
* the correspondence of key African-American leaders
* speeches, sermons, and lectures
* articles, essays, editorials, and other major writings from more than 200
African-American, abolitionist, and reform newspapers
* receipts, poems, and other miscellaneous documents
A printed guide is available.

» Rock Micro E449 .B6x

Slavery & antislavery pamphlets from the libraries of Salmon P. Chase & John P. Hale
5 reels. Film of original materials located at Dartmouth College.
» Rock Micro E441 .M6x

Slave narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves
10 of the 11 reels filmed at the Library of Congress from typewritten records prepared by the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938.
» Rock Micro E444 .S563x 1941a

Papers of the American Slave Trade
23 reels, comprising Series A, materials from the Rhode Island Historical Society.
» Rock Micro E445.R4 P37 1996

Multimedia Resources:

Slavery & Abolition
The single most important journal in the field for the study of slavery, the slave trade and related issues. The Brown University Library holds Volumes 1 through 22 (1980 - 2001) in hardcopy at the Rockefeller Library; Volumes 22 (2001) to present are available electronically through the link in the JOSIAH record.
» HT851 .S58

Print Resources:

Plantation Society in the Americas
A significant journal in the field of slavery studies. The Brown University Library holds Volumes 1(1979) through 6 (1999); publication has since been suspended.
» HN50 .P57

Internet Resources:

  • Captive Passage
    A digital resource on the Transatlantic slave trade and its importance for the making of America. From the Mariner's Museum (Newport News, Virginia), in cooperation with the South Side Seaport Museum (New York City) and the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside (Liverpool, UK).

  • Citizens All: African Americans in Connecticut
    A project of the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale, this site "provides a scholarly introduction to the history of slavery in Connecticut, the process of gradual emancipation, and the struggle for citizenship rights by free blacks and abolitionists both within and beyond the state's boundaries. "

  • Francophone Slavery
    A set of resources on slavery in the France and its colonies, focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries. Includes materials by Black authors from Haiti and elsewhere in the francophone world, as well as visual images. Hosted at the University of Georgia.

  • From Slavery to Freedom: The African American Pamphlet Collection
    A selection of pamphlets by African American authors and others published between 1822 and 1909, and found in the collections of the Rare Book Division of the Library of Congress. Part of the Library's American Memory Project.

  • Liverpool Slavery Trail
    An interactive map of Liverpool, showing sites linked to the trade in African slaves by Liverpool merchants. Clicking on any of the dots provides further information on that site. Mounted by the Merseyside Maritime Museum (Liverpool).

  • N-YHS Slavery Manuscripts
    A collection of online manuscripts documenting the history of slavery and the slave trade in New York, drawn from the superb collections of the New-York Historical Society

  • North American Slave Narratives
    A collection of books and articles from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, including all the existing autobiographical narratives of fugitive and former slaves published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920. Produced by the University of North Carolina Library as part of its Documenting the American South digital initiative.

  • Papers of Frederick Douglass
    From the original collection held by the Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress. Part of the Library's American Memory Project.

  • Secret Routes to Freedom
    Mounted by the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC) at the City University of New York, this site pulls together important resources on the Underground Railroad experience. [NOTE: Proper display requires Macromedia Flash]

  • Slave Resistance: A Caribbean Study
    The product of a Spring 2000 course (History 300: "Caribbean: Slavery and Resistance") taught by Ed Baptist at the University of Miami, this website utilizes Caribbean materials from the Otto G. Richter Library at the University of Miami Libraries and is devoted, in part, to making these materials more widely available.

  • Slavery in New York
    Online version of a major exhibition on slavery in New York City, mounted by the New-York Historical Society in 2005.

  • The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record
    Compiled by Jerome S. Handler and Michael L. Tuite Jr., this database includes some 1,200 images of slavery and slave life in the Americas.

  • The Last Slave Ships
    An online exhibition documenting the history and archeology of the Key West African cemetary, mounted by the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.

  • The Missing Chapter
    An online exhibit mounted by the SE New York Library Resources Council and Historic Huguenot Street (New Paltz, NY) to document untold stories of the African-American presence in the Hudson River Valley. Includes primary documents and lesson plans designed to support curricula from K through university level education.

  • Uncle Toms Cabin & American Culture
    Produced by the University of Virginia in collaboration with the Harriet Beacher Stowe Center in Hartford, this site brings together a variety of texts and images (including film clips) for the purpose of documenting the cultural context of Stowe's 1852 novel and the important role it has played as a conversation piece on race in American culture.

  • USF Africana Heritage Project
    A project of the University of South Florida devoted to the rediscovery and sharing of records that document the lives of the enslaved.

  • Voyages: The TransAtlantic Slave Trade Database
    Successor to the CD-ROM database produced by Cambridge University Press in 1999, this freely available web resource documents close to 35,000 slaving voyages and their impact on the lives of 10 million Africans. It includes a search interface along with maps, estimates, essays, images and a database of Africans by name. Related information may be found on the scholarly blog African Diaspora, Ph.D..