Race and Slavery in America

The African American Odyssey, American Memory, Library of Congress

More than 240 items dealing with African American history, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings are available through this website. The site is organized into nine chronological periods, including slavery; the Civil War; Reconstruction; black exodus; the “Booker T. Washington era”; World War I; the Depression and World War II; and Civil Rights. This website is a well-written guide for exploring much of African American history.

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 site can be searched through 17 subject categories, such as family, labor, Civil War, slavery, social life and customs, and portraits. This site also offers a keyword search and is ideal for researching African American and 19th-century history.

Tangled Roots: A Project Exploring the Histories of Americans of Irish Heritage and Americans of African Heritage, Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale University

This site explores the cultural connections between the history of African Americans and Irish immigrants in America from the 17th century to the present. It offers more than 200 documents related to individual leaders; historical events; economic, political, and social factors; and cultural achievements of African Americans and Irish Americans. A section entitled “Making Connections” offers 15 questions about historical events and people that represent the intertwined histories of Africans and Irish in America and provides links to 36 related documents and images. Other topics covered include the end of English participation in the slave trade, the emergence of the nativist Know-Nothing Party in the 1850s, and Ku Klux Klan activities against Catholics and blacks after the Civil War. This site is a well-designed tool for studying cross-cultural encounters, ethnicity, race, and identity.

Africans in America, PBS Online

This companion to the PBS series Africans in America traces the history of Africans in America in four chronological parts: “The Terrible Transformation” (1450–1750); “Revolution” (1750–1805); “Brotherly Love” (1791–1831); and “Judgment Day” (1831–1865). The site offers 200 primary documents, 75 images and maps, and brief descriptions by historians. Teacher guides offer ideas for questions, activities, and lessons for elementary and secondary students.

Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University

This collection of essays, documents, and bibliographies addresses Atlantic slavery, resistance, and abolition. The “Source Documents” section includes about 200 speeches, letters, cartoons, graphics, and articles that document slavery in the Americas. A “Scholars Forum” posts a featured essay and visitors can read past essays as well. Teacher may like the “Curriculum” section, where lesson plans are available, including one for the Amistad affair. It includes a timeline of abolition, a narrative of the incident and the subsequent trials, and an essay.

Exploring Amistad: Race and the Boundaries of Freedom in Maritime Antebellum America, Mystic Seaport Museum

This site offers more than 500 primary documents relating to the 1839–1842 revolt of enslaved Africans aboard the schooner Amistad, their legal struggles in the United States, and the multifaceted cultural and social dimensions of their case. The site features a searchable library that contains 32 items from personal papers, 33 legal decisions and arguments, 18 selections from the “popular media,” including pamphlets, journal articles, and reports; 103 government publications, 28 images, 11 maps, and 310 newspaper articles and editorials. Provides a wealth of materials for students of slavery, race, politics, and print culture in antebellum America.

African American Women, The Digital Scriptorium, 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.

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.

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.

Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718–1820, UNC, 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.

In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Spanning centuries of experience, this website provides more than 16,500 pages of text, 8,300 images, and more than 60 maps organized around thirteen migration periods from the Transatlantic Slave Trade (1450s-1867), to the Great Migration (1916-1930), to the Haitian Immigration of the 20th century (1970-present). Materials in each category are divided into images, maps, texts, links to related sources, and education materials. This website presents African-American history as a self-motivated part of the American migratory tradition.

Seneca Village, New York Historical Society; New York Public Library; Institute for Learning Technologies, Columbia University

An introduction to Seneca Village, a multi-ethnic community of African Americans and Irish and German immigrants destroyed by New York city officials in 1857 to clear land for Central Park. Through a selection of materials, including maps, images, and secondary essays, the site furnishes background on both Seneca Village and Central Park more generally and is organized into eight sections. Sections include, “Seneca Village,” “Reconstructing Seneca Village,” which includes classroom activities, “New York City in the 1800s,” a “Related Works Reading List,” “The Park Story,” “Student Work,” “Early African New York,” and an about section.

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.

Dred Scott Case, Washington University Libraries, St. Louis

Facsimiles of 85 legal documents relating to the eleven-year Dred Scott Case have been digitized and transcribed and made available on this site. In addition to the court documents, the site provides a chronology and links to 281 case files for “Freedom Suits”—legal petitions for freedom filed in St. Louis courts by or on the behalf of slaves from 1814–1860.

Slavery in New York, New York Historical Society

Focusing on the “collective and personal experiences of Africans and African-Americans” in New York City, this collection presents nine galleries that explore various themes and time periods in New York City’s history of slavery, the Atlantic slave trade and New York City, slavery in Dutch New York, the growth of slavery in British Colonial New York, freedom for blacks in Revolutionary-War New York, the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1799, free blacks in the public life of post-revolutionary New York; black life in New York 1815–1827, Emancipation Day July 4 1827, and the history of scholarship on slavery in New York City. Each gallery has three panels: a gallery overview, a main thematic presentation, and one focusing on people, places, and documents. There is a thirty-four-page teacher’s guide (available for download or printing in .pdf format) with seven lesson plans, a guide to classroom materials, a brief history of slavery in New York City, and a select bibliography.