Web Research

These selected sites offer access to free, high-quality databases pertaining to the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery.


1853 Richmond and its Slave Market This video is meant to help viewers imagine what the built environment of mid-nineteenth-century Richmond looked like and recognize the significant physical footprint of slave trading in its commercial district.

Aframerindian Slave Narratives Presents more than 100 narratives by people of mixed African/Indian ancestry. Culled from the WPA interviews of formerly enslaved people.

The African-American Experience in Ohio Photographs, manuscripts, newspapers, pamphlets, serials.

Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy 1718–1820 Background of 100,000 enslaved men, women, and children who were brought to Louisiana in the 18th and 19th centuries.

American Journeys American Journeys contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration and Settlement. Search for “Africans”, “slaves”, “blacks”.

Anti-Slavery Literature Full texts of 19th century articles, pamphlets, and orations in the United States.

Beneath the Underground Railroad: The Flight to Freedom and Communities in Antebellum Maryland All types of records, runaway advertisements, maps, censuses, prison records, inventories, etc.

The Bibliography of Slavery and World Slaving A searchable database containing verified references (except as noted) to approximately 25,000 scholarly works in all academic disciplines and in all western European languages on slavery and slaving, worldwide and throughout human history, including modern times.

Black Abolitionists Archives Speeches and editorials of some 300 black abolitionists.

Black Archives mid-America Kansas Photos, letters, documents on the African-American experience in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma.

Black Loyalists in Canada Personal accounts, letters, official documents, and proclamations, including the Book of Negroes that lists the African Americans evacuated from New York at the end of the Revolutionary War.

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936–1938 This Library of Congress collection contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves.

The Church in the Southern Black Community, 1780–1925 This compilation of printed texts from the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill traces how Southern African Americans experienced and transformed Protestant Christianity into the central institution of community life.

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System Provides basic facts on 230,000 African American Union soldiers.

A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domingue Grain Shortage of 1789 A digital exhibition of documents that features a set of six new translations introduced by Marlene L. Daut (University of Virginia) that delve into the lives of the enslaved and peoples of color in colonial Saint-Domingue.

Colored Conventions The University of Delaware offers primary sources and teaching tools on the 19th century local and national “Colored Conventions.”

Digital Archeological Archive of Comparative Slavery Designed to foster inter-site, comparative archeological research on slavery throughout the Chesapeake, the Carolinas, and the Caribbean. The database contains a wide array of information from multiple archaeological sites where enslaved Africans and their descendants once lived and worked.

Digital Library on American Slavery An expanding resource compiling various independent online collections focused upon race and slavery in the American South, made searchable through a single, simple interface.

Documenting the American South by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides access to entire books, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture, including slave narratives.

Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Societies Administered at Vanderbilt University, digitally preserves endangered ecclesiastical and secular documents related to Africans and Afro-descended peoples in the Americas. Other non-European groups, such as Chinese and indigenous groups are also represented.

Frederick Douglass Papers The bulk of the material spans 1862 to 1895. The Speech, Article, and Book File series contains the writings of Douglass and his contemporaries in the abolitionist and early women’s rights movements. Scrapbooks document Douglass’s role as minister to Haiti and the controversy surrounding his interracial second marriage.

First-Person Narratives of the American South A collection of diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, travel accounts, and ex-slave narratives written by Southerners. The majority of materials in this collection are written by those Southerners whose voices were less prominent in their time, including African Americans, women, enlisted men, laborers, and Native Americans.

Freedmen and Southern Society Project Sample documents to explain how black people traversed the bloody ground from slavery to freedom between the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 and the beginning of Radical Reconstruction in 1867.

Freedmen’s Bureau Reports, labor, and marriage records of the Bureau which supervised all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen, including issuing rations, clothing, and medicine.

From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1822 to 1909 Presents 396 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics. The materials range from personal accounts and public orations to organizational reports and legislative speeches.

The Geography of Slavery in Virginia Full transcriptions and images of more than 4,000 advertisements for runaway slaves and indentured servants, drawn from newspapers in Virginia and Maryland, covering the years from 1736 through 1803.

The Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition Offers over 200 individual digitized items, including speeches, letters, cartoons and graphics, interviews, and articles.

Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery offers genealogists and researchers a new tool for telling family stories of separation and survival during slavery, emancipation, and Civil War. The site offers easy access to thousands of “Information Wanted” advertisements taken out by former slaves and United States Colored Troops searching for family members lost by sale, flight, or enlistment.

Letters from Liberia  Numerous letters from settlers to former owners in the United States.

The Liberated Africans Project Contains information of Africans liberated by Mixed Commissions located in Brazil, Cuba, and Sierra Leone as part of the international efforts to abolish the Atlantic slave trade.

LowCountry Africana A free website dedicated to African American genealogy and history in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, home to the rich Gullah-Geechee cultural heritage.

Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection Numbering over 10,000 titles, May’s pamphlets and leaflets document the anti-slavery struggle at the local, regional, and national levels.

Monticello Plantation Database This website contains information about people who lived in slavery on Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantations. It provides access to a database of information on over 600 individuals: details of life span, family structure, occupation, and transactions like purchases and sales.

Daniel A. P. Murray Collection Presents a review of African-American history and culture, from the early 19th through the early 20th centuries. The 351 titles include sermons; annual reports of charitable, educational, and political organizations; and college catalogs and graduation orations from the Hampton Institute, Morgan College, and Wilberforce University.

NC Runaway Slave Advertisements Provides online access to all known runaway slave advertisements (more than 2300 items) published in North Carolina newspapers from 1751 to 1840.

North American Slave Narratives Books and articles, 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.

Parliament and the British Slave Trade 1600–1807 Paintings, illustrations, political cartoons, petitions, bills, acts, debates, evidence, objects, and letters.

Race and Slavery Petitions Project Includes approximately 3,000 petitions, and 20,000 pages of documentary evidence, principally from seven states (Delaware, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia). The database by The University of North Carolina at Greensboro gives the names, status (slave or free), and color of petitioner[s], subject of petition, and other data.

Roll of Emigrants to Liberia 1820 to 1843 Gives information on names, ages, education, occupations and family status of African-Americans settlers in Liberia. Plus 1843 Census.

Sydney Howard Gay’s Record of Fugitives A treasure trove of information about how and why slaves escaped, who assisted them, and where they were sent from New York. Columbia University.

Slave Biographies An open access data repository of information on the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic World. It includes the names, ethnicities, skills, occupations, and illnesses of individual slaves. Users of the website can access data about slaves in colonial Louisiana and Maranhão, Brazil.

Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812 to 1834 Information available on these records includes: name of owner, parish of residence, name, gender, age, and nationality of enslaved individuals.

Slavery Resource Guide from the Library of Congress, for elementary and middle school students.

Slaves and the Courts, 1740 to 1860 This Library of Congress sites contains over a hundred pamphlets and books. Search by keywords or browse the subject index.

Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761 In 1760, some 1,500 enslaved men and women took advantage of Britain’s Seven Year’s War against France and Spain, to stage a massive uprising. Interactive map and narrative. Harvard University

Slave Voyages Rich and detailed database of 35,000 slave voyages; with latest estimates on numbers, and places of origin of the Africans deported through the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Texas Slavery Project The Texas Slavery Project examines the spread of American slavery into the borderlands between the United States and Mexico in the decades between 1820 and 1850.

The New York Public Library Digital Collections. Over 1,800 images, books, essays, and other documents relating to slavery.

The Randolph Linsly Simpson Collection Presents a vivid picture of black life and American racial attitudes from the 1850s to the 1940s: more than 400 formal studio portraits of politicians and bankers, cowboys, workmen, families, men in military service, emancipated children, and carnival performers.

Gerrit Smith Broadside Collection Smith was one of New York State’s most notable abolitionists and social reformers. Access to 214 broadsides and pamphlets.

The Valley of the Shadow Digital archive of primary sources that document the lives of people in Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, during the era of the Civil War. Presents thousands of original documents.

Two Plantations Information on the lives of 431 people enslaved at two plantations, in Virginia and Jamaica. Based on research by Richard S. Dunn.

Unknown No Longer  The database seeks to lift from the obscurity of unpublished historical records as much biographical detail as remains of the enslaved Virginians named in those documents. Virginia Historical Society.

Virginia Emigrants to Liberia Includes a searchable database of nearly 3,700 emigrants and nearly 250 Virginia emancipators; a timeline of relevant events and documents between 1787 and 1866; a compilation of important related sources, and links to related research websites and news of Liberia today.

Voices from the Days of Slavery The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom.

Yale Slavery and Abolition Portal This site is designed to help researchers and students find primary sources related to slavery, abolition, and resistance within the university’s many libraries and galleries.

Historical Maps

16th to Early 20th Century Maps of Africa 113 antique maps of Africa and accompanying text dating from the mid 16th Century to the early 20th Century. All scanned maps are authentic and originally collected by the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies (or the Africana Library) at Northwestern University.

Afriterra This database currently contains more than 1,400 historical maps focused on Africa.

Caribmap: A Cartographic History of the West Indies Numerous historical maps, mostly from the 1500s to the 1600s.

David Rumsey Map Collection Focuses primarily on cartography of the Americas from the 18th and 19th centuries, but also has maps of Africa, Oceania, Asia and the world. The collection includes atlases, globes, school geographies, books, maritime charts, and a variety of separate maps, including pocket, wall, children’s, and manuscript. Close to 16,000 items.

Library of Congress Map Collections Covering 400 years of map making. Seven theme categories: Cities and Towns, Conservation and Environment, Discovery and Exploration, Cultural Landscape, Military Battles and Campaigns, Transportation and Communication, and General Maps.

World Map Collections Maps of the Caribbean document trade routes, the colonial past, and a multi-cultural West Indian heritage. Maps of Africa as found by European slave-traders and colonizers. Ancient kingdoms can be seen mapped along-side European territorial claims.