History 3850B: Slavery & Abolition in the Americas



This Web guide is an introduction to information resources -- particularly digital library objects and sources for scholarly articles -- associated with the issues and institutions of slavery and its abolition in the Americas.

Ask Us for help if you need assistance in finding information about these topics.

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The following is a selection of Web sites and digital library collections containing primary and secondary information sources pertaining to slavery and abolition.

Many of the descriptions of these collections are adapted from the following bibliography:

Gevinson, A. et al. (2005). History matters: A student guide to U.S. history online. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's.


Africans in America (PBS Online)

This collection is a companion to a PBS television series that chronicles the history of Africans in the United States up to Reconstruction. Includes 245 documents, images and maps as well as 153 descriptions by historians on issues pertaining to slavery and abolition in the United States. N.B.: This resource doesn't have a search mechanism.

Digital History (Steven Mintz and Sara McNeil, University of Houston)

Includes more than 600 documents on the history of Mexican Americans, American Indians and slavery -- from 'first encounters' to the American Civil War.

Digital Library of Georgia (University of Georgia Libraries)

Objects in this digital collection come from the state of Georgia. Includes more than 17,000 state documents from 1794 onwards. Collection features state laws from 1799 to 1995, a collection called Southeastern Native American Documents (over 2000 objects) as well as 80 digitized books from the 19th century to 1920, historic newspapers, period political cartoons, etc.

Geography of Slavery in America (Virginia Center for Digital History and University of Virginia, Wise)

Includes transcriptions and digital images of more than 2400 newspaper ads between 1736 and the early 1800s that deal with runaway slaves.

African American Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century (Digital Schomburg: The New York Public Library)

Includes 52 publications by black women writers from the the 18th century through 1920.  Collection can be browsed by title, author or genre.

Dred Scott Case (Washington University Libraries)

Includes facsimiles and transcriptions of legal documents from the Dred Scott Case. Web site includes a chronology and links to legal petitions for freedom initiated by of for slaves.

Freedom Bound: The Underground Railroad in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania (Lynn Estomin, Lycoming College)

Web site constructed in Flash. Includes a searchable map, images and streaming audio reports. 

North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920 (William Andrews, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Includes 230 full-text documents on American slaves' lives, including "all known published slave narratives and many published biographies of slaves." 

Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection (Cornell University Library)

Collection of a renowned abolitionist. Inlcudes "more than 10,000 pamphlets, leaflets, broadsides, local anti-slavery society newsletters, sermons, essays and arguments for and against slavery." Materials date from 1773 to 1934 and cover United States and West Indies contexts. More than 300,000 pages available for searching.

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 (Library of Congress, American Memory)

Includes more than 2300 primary sources and accounts of slavery as well as 500 photographs of former slaves. Collected by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Project Administration (organized under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt).

Freedmen and Southern Society Project (Freedmen and Southern Society Project)

Includes 44 documents dealing with the African American slave emancipation from 1861 to 1865. 

Freedmen's Bureau Online (Christine's Genealogy Websites)

Web site inlcudes records of the Freedmen's Bureau, the US government office set up in 1865 to "supervise all relief and education activities for refugees and freedmen after the Civil War." Includes transcriptions and reports of murders, riots and criminal offences that occurred in the former Confederate states from 1865 to 1868.

Selected Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress, American Memory)

From American Memory, one of the world's most prestigious digital library collections. Includes 1118 photographs of Civil War military and battles.  

Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture (Stephen Railton, University of Virginia)

Web site explores Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin and its role in American culture. Collection includes images of Stowe's text as well as text that were influential in the writing of the novel. 

African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907 (Library of Congress, American Memory)

Includes 350 African American pamphlets and documents from 1875 to 1900 that comprise speeches, slave narratives, poetry, scripts, etc. Digital objects deal with themes of segregation, voting rights and violence against African Americans, amongst other topics. 

Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Libraries)

Includes approximately 1400 documents dealing with life in the American South in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.

James Birney Collection of Anti-Slavery Pamphlets (Johns Hopkins University Library)

Collection of digital imprints of pamphlets, books and clippings from a James G. Birney, a Kentucky abolitionist.

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Articles pertaining to the academic study of slavery and abolition are mainly accessible through the following databases:

America: History and Life

Accesses articles from more than 1,700 journals published worldwide that deal with the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. Scope of coverage beyond history includes popular culture, gender studies, psychology, literature, folklore, anthropology, economics, business, politics and more. Indexes articles from 1954 to the present.

Historical Abstracts

This database indexes articles pertaining to history outside the United States and Canada (i.e. slavery issues in other countries in the Americas). Scope of coverage beyond history includes anthropology, genealogy, multicultural studies, political science, sociology and more. Journals, books and dissertations are indexed.

History Cooperative

A publicly available Web site that provides access to journals in historical studies (mainly in American studies). Includes access to journals such as American Historical Review and the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association. Most articles in this database were published from 2000 to the present.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index

Indexes nearly 1,150 of the world's leading arts and humanities journals, as well as relevant items from over 6,800 major science and social science journals. Subject areas covered are archaeology, architecture, art, dance, folklore, history, language, linguistics, literature, music, philosophy, poetry, radio/television/film, religion, theater. May also search for articles that cite an author or work. Articles indexed from 1975 to present.

Early Canadiana Online

Full-text bilingual collection of primary documents, including books, annuals, and periodicals, documenting Canadian history from the first European contact to the early 20th Century. Includes collections on Canadian Women's History, Colonial Government Journals, Early Governor Generals of Canada, Early Official Publications, English Canadian Literature, History of French Canada, Hudson's Bay, Jesuit Relations, Native Studies and Reconstituted Debates. Works published from 16th to the early 20th century.

Early Encounters in North America

Includes nearly 1,500 authors' letters, diaries, memoirs and accounts of early encounters with North American Peoples. Centered on Canada and the United States with some limited coverage of Mexico.


Accesses more than 600 journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Indexes non-current (3 to 5 years old) issues of scholarly journals as well as current issues of some journals.

North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories

Accesses personal narratives including letters, diaries, pamphlets, autobiographies, and oral histories of North American immigrants. Provides perspectives both on North America and on the immigrants' countries of origin. Provides research support in history, sociology, ethnic and diversity studies, women's studies, labor studies and literature. Collection also includes some audio files (voices of immigrants) and scrapbook images. Sources date from 1784 to the present.

Oral History Online

Indexes more than 2,700 English-language oral history collections from around the world. Also indexes free oral history information on the Web. Search oral history collections, repositories, and narratives, as well as links to full text, audio, and video where available. Includes Ellis Island oral history narratives, exclusive Black Panther Party interviews, and more. Some of the narratives date back to the 1700s.

Project Muse

Accesses full text of over 300 scholarly humanities, arts and social sciences journals.  Covers the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics and more. Offers fulltext access to some journal back issues archived in JSTOR.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000

Documents American women's social movements from colonial times to the present. Includes full-text access to primary documents, scholarly essays, commentaries, bibliographies, book, film and website reviews, the Dictionary of Social Movements, images, links to related Web sites and more. Oral histories are a recent addition.

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If you need help finding or using information about slavery and abolition:

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 Content Revised: March 24, 2010
 Content Created: December 20, 2006

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