Slavery and Emancipation Resources (adapted from handout created by George Mason University)
The African American Odyssey, Library of Congress, American MemoryMore than 240 items dealing with African American history, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. The site is organized into nine periods, including slavery, the Civil War; Reconstruction, black exodus, the “Booker T. Washington era” of progress, World War I; the Depression and World War II; and Civil Rights. A well-written guide for exploring African American history.
Slaves and the Courts, 1740–1860, Library of Congress, American MemoryProvides published materials on legal aspects of slavery. Most of the pamphlets and books pertain to American cases in the 19th century. 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 trials of noted abolitionists John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison.
Images of African Americans from the 19th Century, New York Public LibraryThis 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 offers a keyword search and is ideal for researching African American and 19th-century history.
Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection, Cornell University LibraryThis site features more than 10,000 pamphlets, leaflets, broadsides, newsletters of 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.
North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920, William Andrews, University of North Carolina at Chapel HillOffers 230 full-text documents on the lives of American slaves, including all known-to-be published slave narratives and many published biographies of slaves. Users can also view images of the covers, spines, title pages, and versos of title pages. Provides a 2,200-word introductory essay by Professor Andrews. Of great value to those studying the history of American slavery, the South, African American culture, and literary properties of slave narratives.
Third Person, First Person: Slave Voices, Digital Scriptorium, Duke UniversityAn exhibit of primary source material relating to slavery from the late 18th century to emancipation in the 19th century. Reproduces or describes 33 documents, ranging from a broadside announcing a reward for the return of a runaway slave to an 85-page memoir written in 1923 by an African American woman who relates stories and experiences of her parents and grandparents, who had been slaves.
Slavery Images, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and University of VirginiaImages in this collection have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public - in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World.
Local History Resources
New York Historical SocietyThe New-York Historical Society was established in 1804 as New York’s first museum. Its eleven founders all lived through the turbulent years of the American Revolution and the British occupation of New York. These men believed that New York’s citizens needed to take decisive action to preserve eyewitness evidence of their own historical moment, which they recognized as important, fearing “dust and obscurity” would be the inevitable fate of accounts and artifacts if left in the hands of private individuals. “Without the aid of original records and authentic documents,” they declared, “history will be nothing more than a well-combined series of ingenious conjectures and amusing fables.”
Brooklyn Historical SocietyBrooklyn Historical Society houses a world-renowned special collections and archives library on the second floor of its landmark building. The Othmer Library’s magnificent reading room, with its stained glass windows and carved wooden columns, transports the visitor to an earlier era.
The Library & Archives department collects, preserves, and makes accessible one of the most comprehensive collection of materials related to Brooklyn’s history and culture. Its holdings include over 33,000 books, 1,600 archival collections, 1,200 oral history interviews, 50,000 photographs, 2,000 maps, 8,000 artifacts, and 300 paintings which document the commercial, residential, community, and civic development of the borough. The collections foster new and cutting-edge scholarship; support public learning and research; and enrich BHS's exhibits, educational activities, and public programming.
Bronx County Historical SocietyThe BCHS collections allow for intensive examinations of the borough and represent vital sources of information for the museum visitor and researchers of metropolitan/urban history. Since its establishment in 1955 as an institution mandated to collect borough documentation and its material culture, BCHS collections have remained a vital component of its mission and play an important, ongoing role in shaping its strategic planning.
The Society’s collections deal with the 17th century to the present. Documentation of ongoing Bronx history is accomplished through donation, staff photography, news clippings, and collecting on newly emerging populations, changing demographics and the built environment. Collection materials also document later 20th century historical and economical developments such as the devastation that became a national and international symbol of urban blight in the South Bronx.
Queens Historical SocietyFounded in 1968 as a not-for-profit organization, the Queens Historical Society (QHS) is the largest and most active historical society in the borough and the only one with a borough-wide scope and impact. It promotes and provides assistance for research into social, political, and economic aspects of Queens history and documents the constant changes that continue to shape the borough. It maintains an archive and library of primary and secondary sources of historical information for students, historians and the public.
Staten Island Historical Society digital collectionsThe Staten Island Historical Society’s collections tell the story of the American experience through the lives of Staten Islanders. Portions of the collection are displayed in museum galleries and house museums at Historic Richmond Town. The Online Collections Database was created for the study of selected items that may not be on display.
Thousands more items are preserved and cataloged but not yet online. Please contact us if you'd like to help support this important work! Images and text in this database are copyrighted by the Staten Island Historical Society unless otherwise noted. Materials reproduced for personal non-commercial use must credit the Staten Island Historical Society. Commercial licensing is available, and higher quality images are also available for purchase.
Museum of the City of New YorkBrowse more than 185,000 images from our collections, now available as part of our ongoing digitization project. We will be adding more material to the portal as our imaging and cataloging work continues, so check back often!
American MemoryWritten records, sound recordings, maps, images, prints, and other materials from the collections of the Library of Congress that document American history and creativity. Collections can be browsed by broad topic and alphabetically within that.
Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and DiplomacyFocuses on law, history, politics, diplomacy, government, and economics. Some sources have links to supporting documents. Searchable by time period (from BCE through the twenty-first century) or document collection. International in scope.
Digital HistoryA site supported by the University of Houston that focuses on American history, with over 400 annotated documents from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. It contains primary sources on slavery; Mexican American, Asian American, and Native American history; and U.S. political, social, and legal history. Also included are historical essays, speeches, and chronologies, as well as an audio archive, historical maps, essays, online exhibitions, and images.
Founders Early AccessAn ongoing project that provides access to unpublished documents from the founders of the United States. Note that these versions are in the process of being edited and annotated for inclusion in scholarly editions, so the transcriptions are liable to change. Final edited versions appear in Rotunda’s American Founding Era collection, which is fee based.
History MattersContains over 1,000 primary documents in text, image, and audio chronicling the experiences of ordinary Americans, arranged chronologically. Each document is annotated with a brief paragraph providing historical background.
Internet Modern History SourcebookThis site presents a diversity of source material in modern European, American, and Latin American history, Western civilization, and world cultures, including contemporary narrative accounts, personal memoirs, songs, newspaper reports, and cultural, philosophical, religious, and scientific documents.
Primary Documents in American HistoryLinks to materials digitized from the collections of the Library of Congress. Includes bibliographies and background information for each item. Current sections and topics are: 1763–1815: The American Revolution and the New Nation; 1815–1860: National Expansion and Reform; 1860–1877: Civil War and Reconstruction.
Documenting the American SouthDocumenting the American South (DocSouth) is a digital publishing initiative that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes sixteen thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs.
The University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sponsors Documenting the American South, and the texts and materials come primarily from its southern holdings. The UNC University Library is committed to the long-term availability of these collections and their online records. An editorial board guides development of this digital library.