Slave Societies Digital Archive

By giving endangered historical records a permanent (digital) home, it plays an invaluable role in ensuring that the lives and stories of millions of African men, women, and children who suffered the indignities of the Atlantic slave trade will not be lost to the ravages of time.
Image of a slave trading vessel

Slave Voyages

Slave Voyages is an essential project for those seeking to learn more about enslavement and imperial powers in the Atlantic World, the transatlantic slave trade and Middle Passage, and the African diaspora.
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Slave Women and Children


Although marriage was not forbidden between Europeans and slaves or other non-Europeans, it was quite rare and entailed a drop in social status for the European. Nevertheless, sexual relationships occurred—sometimes coerced, sometimes by mutual agreement. The children born to slave women by these relationships were seldom openly acknowledged by their fathers, and thus usually followed the fate... Read More »

Thumbnail of title image from A picture of slavery, for youth by Jonathan Walker

Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860

This site offers 105 documents published between 1772 and 1889 that deal with the legal experiences of slaves and the legal aspects of slavery in the United States and Great Britain.

Society of the Friends of Blacks, "Address to the National Assembly in Favor of the Abolition of the Slave Trade" (5 February 1790)


The Society of the Friends of Blacks rested their case for the abolition of the slave trade on the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and the belief that political rights should be granted to religious minorities. Their denunciation of the slave trade resembles in its details the account of Abbé Raynal. They took a defensive tone in this address written in response to intense... Read More »

Painting of a slave sale

Source Collection: Slavery and the Haitian Revolution


Since the revolutionaries explicitly proclaimed liberty as their highest ideal, slavery was bound to come into question during the French Revolution. Even before 1789 critics had attacked the slave trade and slavery in the colonies. France had several colonies in the Caribbean in which slavery supported a plantation economy that produced sugar, coffee, and cotton. The most important of these... Read More »

Source Collection: The Enlightenment and Human Rights


When the French revolutionaries drew up the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen in August 1789, they aimed to topple the institutions surrounding hereditary monarchy and establish new ones based on the principles of the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement gathering steam in the eighteenth century. The goal of the Enlightenment's proponents was to apply the methods learned from the... Read More »

Removal of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson monument, Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia

Stonewall Jackson monument removal, Richmond, Virginia, United States


The Stonewall Jackson Monument in Richmond, Virginia was erected in 1919 to honor Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson (1824-1863), a Confederate general. Jackson, a former instructor at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), gained prominence, and his nickname, for leading a Confederate victory at... Read More »

Film still shows three men talking in a field

Swords and Hearts


In the years before D. W. Griffith made The Birth of a Nation (1915), the epic film that debuted on the 50th anniversary of the Civil War, he produced 11 Civil War films in which he mastered the art of filmmaking and storytelling. These have surprising relevance to the history of girls. A comparison of Griffith's portrayal of heroic girls in Swords and Hearts (1911) and The House with Closed... Read More »

The Abolition of Negro Slavery or Means for Ameliorating Their Lot, 1789


The passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, explicitly cited in this pamphlet, did not go unnoticed by those who favored abolition of the slave trade and eventual emancipation of the slaves. Yet even the most determined adversaries of slavery worried about the consequences of immediate abolition, especially for the French economy. As a result, advocates of abolition put... Read More »