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History - Researching Slavery: Digital Collections
A special topic guide for researching slavery in U.S. history.
Contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) of the Works Progress Administration, later renamed Work Projects Administration (WPA). At the conclusion of the Slave Narrative project, a set of edited transcripts was assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. In 2000-2001, with major support from the Citigroup Foundation, the Library digitized the narratives from the microfilm edition and scanned from the originals 500 photographs, including more than 200 that had never been microfilmed or made publicly available. This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs divisions of the Library of Congress.
This collection consists of 105 library books and manuscripts, totalling 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 selection was guided in large part by the entries in Slavery in the Courtroom: An Annotated Bibliography of American Cases by Paul Finkelman (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1985), which was based on research in the Library 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.
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. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement. It is important to note that all of the interviewees spoke sixty or more years after the end of their enslavement, and it is their full lives that are reflected in these recordings. The individuals documented in this presentation have much to say about living as African Americans from the 1870s to the 1930s, and beyond.
The 800 + titles in the collection include sermons on racial pride and political activism; annual reports of charitable, educational, and political organizations; and college catalogs and graduation orations from the Hampton Institute, Morgan College, and Wilberforce University. Also included are biographies, slave narratives, speeches by members of Congress, legal documents, poetry, playbills, dramas, and librettos. Other materials focus on segregation, voting rights, violence against African Americans, the colonization of Africa by freed slaves, anti-slavery organizations and investigative reports. Several of the items are illustrated with portraits of the authors.
A database of fugitives from North American slavery. Created to control the movement of enslaved people, runaway ads ultimately preserved the details of individual lives--their personality, appearance, and life story. Taken collectively, these ads constitute a detailed, concise, and rare source of information about the experiences of enslaved people.
The Trans-Atlantic and Intra-American slave trade databases are the culmination of several decades of independent and collaborative research by scholars drawing upon data in libraries and archives around the Atlantic world. The new Voyages website itself is the product of three years of development by a multi-disciplinary team of historians, librarians, curriculum specialists, cartographers, computer programmers, and web designers, in consultation with scholars of the slave trade from universities in Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.
The Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division collects, preserves, and makes available for research purposes rare, unique, and primary materials that document the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world, with a concentration on the Americas and the Caribbean.
The JBH Research and Reference Division holds and provides access to books, serials, and microforms containing information by and about people of African descent throughout the world, concentrating on the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Geographically, the collection emphasizes the Americas, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Includes books and articles that document the individual and collective story of African Americans struggling for freedom and human rights in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. This collection includes all the existing autobiographical narratives of fugitive and former slaves published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920. Also included are many of the biographies of fugitive and former slaves and some significant fictionalized slave narratives published in English before 1920.
From the 1820s to the Civil War, African Americans assumed prominent roles in the transatlantic struggle to abolish slavery. In contrast to the popular belief that the abolitionist crusade was driven by wealthy whites, some 300 black abolitionists were regularly involved in the antislavery movement, heightening its credibility and broadening its agenda. 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 few slave narratives that are presented in this exhibit reflect only a fraction of the millions upon millions of stories that could have been told by people who had the misfortune to toil under the yoke of slavery. Although each of their stories is as unique and individual as a fingerprint, describing as they do, a different heartbreak and a different survival strategy. The brief glimpse provided in this exhibit will give you an introduction to the ways in which lives were affected.
The Digital Library on American Slavery is an expanding resource compiling various independent online collections focused upon race and slavery in the American South, made searchable through a single, simple interface.