Images of African Americans from the 19th Century, New York Public Library
This site contains roughly 500 images depicting the social, political, and cultural worlds of African Americans. The images can be searched through 17 subject categories, such as family, labor, Civil War, slavery, social life and customs, and portraits. This site offers a keyword search and is ideal for researching African American and 19th-century history.
African American Women, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University
Writings of three African American women of the 19th century are offered in this site. It features scanned images and transcriptions of an 85-page memoir by Elizabeth Johnson Harris (1867–1923), a Georgia women whose parents had been slaves; a 565-word letter written in 1857 by a North Carolinian slave named Vilet Lester; and four letters written between 1837 and 1838 by Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson, slaves on a Virginia plantation. The documents are accompanied by three background essays, six photographs, a bibliography of seven titles on American slave women, and eight links to additional resources. The documents offer insight into the lives of women living under slavery and during its aftermath in the South.
Slaves and the Courts, 1740–1860, American Memory, Library of Congress
This collection provides access to published materials on legal aspects of slavery. Most of the pamphlets and books available pertain to American cases in the 19th century. The site includes documents on the slave trade, slave codes, the Fugitive Slave Law, slave insurrections, and courtroom proceedings from famous trials such as the Amistad case, the Denmark Vesey conspiracy trial, and the trials of noted abolitionists John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison.
Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection, Cornell University Library
This site features one of the richest collections of anti-slavery and Civil War materials in the world. The collection consists of more than 10,000 pamphlets, leaflets, broadsides, newsletters from local and regional anti-slavery societies, sermons, essays, and arguments for and against slavery. Materials date from the 18th to the 19th centuries and cover slavery in the United States and the West Indies, the slave trade, and emancipation.
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936–1938, American Memory, Library of Congress
This gold mine of information on the history of slavery is drawn from interviews of those who lived as slaves, collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s. The site offers 2,300 first- person accounts of slavery and 500 black and white photographs of former slaves. This website also includes a 3000-word introductory essay on the significance of slave narratives.
North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920, William Andrews, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
This site offers 230 full-text documents on the lives of American slaves, including all known-to-be-published slave narratives and many published biographies of slaves. The site is accessible through alphabetical and chronological listings. The documents are indexed by subject, but subject searching brings up additional materials included in other collections in the University of North Carolina’s “Documenting the American South” parent site as well. The site provides a 2,200-word introductory essay and is of great value to those studying the history of American slavery, the South, African-American culture, and the literary properties of slave narratives.
The Underground Railroad, National Geographic
This interactive site places visitors in the shoes of a Maryland slave pondering escape to Canada in 1850. If they choose to escape, they are led into one of the Underground Railroad escape routes into Canada. Along the way they are introduced to several prominent abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman, Quaker businessman Thomas Garrett, and escaped slave Frederick Douglass. The site also includes a map of Underground Railroad routes, a timeline of African slavery in the New World from 1500 to 1865, and portraits and brief biographies of 12 major figures in the Underground Railroad. A link to classroom ideas provides nine class projects for high school students. There are also links to seven related websites and a bibliography of 18 scholarly works.
Geography of Slavery in Virginia, Virginia Center for Digital History and Thomas Costa, University of Virginia College at Wise
Full transcriptions and images of more than 2,400 newspaper advertisements regarding runaway slaves, mostly from the Williamsburg Virginia Gazette, between 1736 and 1777 are available through this website. The site includes ads placed by owners and overseers for runaways as well as ads for captured or suspected runaway slaves placed by sheriffs and other governmental officials. In addition, the site’s creators have included ads for runaway servants, sailors, and military deserters, to offer “a unique look at the lower orders in 18th-century Virginia.” The collection is searchable by any words appearing in ads. Users can click on the name of a slave within an ad to find links to all other ads listing that name. The site also provides approximately 40 links to related primary material—including letters, laws, court documents, planters’ records, and literature—as well as three K-12 teaching guides using the ads. It is an extremely valuable resource for those studying slave culture, Virginia society in the 18th century, and the use of print culture to support the institution of slavery.
Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718–1820, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
This site provides detailed data on more than 100,000 slaves and free blacks in Louisiana from 1718 to 1820. Users can search by name of slave, master’s name, gender, epoch, racial designation, plantation location, and place of origin. Information was compiled from documents created when slaves arrived by ship, were bought and sold, were reported as runaways, testified in court cases, were manumitted, and at the death of masters.