Resources

Databases, Projects and Works

 

People of the Wye House

A searchable database of the enslaved people of the Wye House Plantation between 1770 and 1826.

The Wye House Plantation still stands today in Maryland, owned by the same family. The plantation had hundreds of enslaved individuals, for whom the historical record has left little elaboration. The Archaeology in Annapolis project at the University of Maryland has worked on the property since 2006 at the invitation of the Wye House owners, in order to bring the lives of the slaves to light through archaeological remains.

English Paleography Tutorial

Created by Kathryn James, Rare Book Librarian at Yale University.

“Secretary hand” is the name for the dominant form of handwriting used by writers of the English language from the late 15th through the mid-17th century. This particular style was known as secretary hand because much of the work of writing was done by professional copyists, known variously as secretaries, clerks, scriveners or scribes.

Slavery & Abolition

Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy

Database of enslaved brought to Louisiana in the 18th and 19th centuries. Includes documents from archives in France, Spain, and Texas. Information includes African slave names, genders, ages, occupations, illnesses, family relationships, ethnicity, places of origin, prices paid by slave owners, and slaves’ testimony and emancipations.

Antislavery Pamphlet Collection | 1725 – 1911

University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries – Printed pamphlets and books pertaining to slavery and antislavery in New England, 1725-1911. Includes speeches, sermons, proceedings and other publications of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and the American Colonization Society, and a small number of pro-slavery tracts.

Black Abolitionist Archive

University of Detroit Mercy – Collection of speeches by antebellum blacks and editorials from the 1820s – Civil War, providing a portrait of black involvement in the anti-slavery movement.

Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery

Database on research and analysis of slave owners to understand slavery’s role in shaping British history and present, research on the lives of enslaved people in the Caribbean.

Charles F. Heartman Manuscripts of Slavery Collection | 1724 – 1897

Xavier University of Louisiana Library – Pieces dating from 1724 to 1897 relating directly to the social, economic, civil, and legal status of enslaved Negroes and Free People of Color in Louisiana and especially in New Orleans. The manuscripts are written in French, Spanish, and English.

Colored Conventions Project | 1830s – 1890s

Primary sources from the long conventions movement. Primary sources include minutes, proceedings, newspaper articles, speeches, letters, transcripts, and images.

Documenting the American South: North American Slave Narratives

Digitized primary materials that offer Southern perspectives on American history and culture. This collection includes all the existing autobiographical narratives of self-emancipated and formerly enslaved people published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920.

Freedom on the Move

Database of “runaway ads” posted in American colonies with details of individual lives–their personality, appearance, and life story. Taken collectively, the ads constitute a detailed, concise, and rare source of information about the experiences of enslaved people.

The Free Womb Project

Multilingual (English, Spanish, and Portuguese) digital collection of laws legislating the gradual abolition of slavery through “Free Womb” decrees in fifteen different governments across the Atlantic World during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A resource for students and scholars of slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World. Each law has been translated into English and Spanish or Portuguese and can be accessed in the “Laws” section. Visitors can also find a brief introductory historical essay and a “Suggested Readings” list for more on the subject.

Guide to the Slavery in North America Collection | 1752 – 1864

University of Chicago Library – Sources that document slavery and the treatment of enslaved persons in the 18th – 19th century, primarily in the United States. Documents include several bills of sale, a memorandum describing the slave trade in Havana (1783), estate inventories, public notices, letters, deeds, a will, and an indemnity bond. A few of the documents are facsimiles.

Log Book of Slave Traders | 1757 – 1758

Museum of Connecticut History – Nine pages from manuscript logbook of Samuel Gould, a Connecticut native who was a first mate or supercargo aboard three slave ships in 1757-58. Complete logbook available to researchers in the State Archives of the State Library.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Historical manuscripts and rare published works that serve as a window into the lives of African Americans in Massachusetts from the late 17th century through the abolition of slavery under the Massachusetts Constitution in the 1780s.

Medford Slave Trade Letters | 1759 – 1765

Medford Historical Society and Museum – Series of letters from 1759 – 1765 between Timothy Fitch, a merchant and Medford resident, and his employee Peter Gwinn. The letters reveal the realities and truths of the Atlantic Slave trade and remain a historic link and witness to eighteenth-century human trafficking.

Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC) Slave Voyage on The Unity | 1761 – 1763

Zeeland Archives – Reconstruction of one triangular or slave voyage using authentic archive documents. The voyage can be followed from day to day. The “pivotal characters” of 252 years ago “report” the events on board and sometimes ashore, through the records they have left behind.

Native Bound Unbound Project: Archive of Indigenous Slavery

Transcription project on primary source documents related to indigenous slavery, aiming to reclaim the voice of the millions of enslaved Indigenous people of the Americas, telling the stories of their lives through surviving historical documents.

People of the Wye House | 1770 – 1826

Searchable database of the enslaved people of the Wye House Plantation, historic home since the mid-seventeenth century in Maryland. Aims to bring the lives of the enslaved peoples on the plantation through archaeological remains.

Runaway Slaves in Eighteenth-Century Britain project

A searchable database of newspaper advertisements placed by masters and owners seeking the capture and return of enslaved and bound people who had escaped. Many were of African descent, though a small number were from the Indian sub-continent and a few were Indigenous Americans.

Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice | 1753 – 1835

Brown University – Digital archive of varying historical documents, from the records of slaving voyages to personal correspondence to student commencement orations. Focus on university’s region.

Slaves and the Courts collection | 1740 – 1860

Library of Congress – Mostly legal documents from the 19th century, including materials associated with the Dred Scott case and the abolitionist activities of John Brown, John Quincy Adams, and William Lloyd Garrison. 18th-century cases include Somerset v. Stewart, decided in England a few years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Slave Revolt in Jamaica: A Cartographic Narrative | 1760 – 1761

Animated thematic map narrating the spatial history of the greatest slave insurrection in the 18th century British Empire, offers an interpretation of the military campaign’s spatial dynamics. Spurs thought about the importance of the landscape to the course of the uprising and the difficulty of representing such events cartographically with available sources.

Slave Societies Digital Archive

Vanderbilt University – Endangered ecclesiastical and secular documents related to Africans and African-descended peoples in slave societies. Extensive serial records for the history of Africans in the Atlantic World, and also includes information about the indigenous, European, and Asian populations who lived alongside them.

Slave Voyages

Compiles and makes publicly accessible records of the largest slave trades in history. Database of origins and forced relocations in the trans-atlantic world and Americas. Explore where they were taken, the numerous rebellions that occurred, the horrific loss of life during the voyages, the identities and nationalities of the perpetrators, and much more.

(Un)Silencing Slavery

Aims to respectfully and lovingly remember and hold space for the enslaved Africans and their enslaved African-born and Caribbean-born descendants who lived and labored at Rose Hall Plantation in Jamaica.

Colonial Lives & Records

Avalon Project

Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Law Library – Colonial charters, grants and related documents.

Belgique, Congo, Rwanda et Burundi : Guide des sources de l’histoire de la colonisation

Resource Guide for the History of Belgian Colonization of Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. Descriptions and contextualization of colonial archives kept in Belgium and their links with other collections.

Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region | 1600 – 1925

Library of Congress – First-person narratives, early histories, historical biographies, promotional brochures, and books of photographs in an attempt to capture in words and pictures a distinctive region as it developed between the onset of European settlement and the first quarter of the twentieth century.

Colonial and Revolutionary Boston | 1631 – 1805

Digital Commonwealth, Boston Public Library – The collection documents the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, as well as the ensuing political, social, and financial crises that led to the American Revolution and the formation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Diary of Samuel Sewall | 1674 – 1729

Merchant, colonial magistrate, member of the Governor’s Council, and diarist, Samuel Sewall (1652-1730) played a major role in the activities of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for 56 years.

DoHistory – Martha Ballard’s Diary | 1785 – 1812

Explore the process of piecing together the lives of ordinary people in the past. It is an experimental, interactive case study based on the research that went into the book and film A Midwife’s Tale, which were both based upon the remarkable 200-year-old diary of midwife/healer Martha Ballard.

Early Caribbean Digital Archive

Northeastern University – pre-twentieth-century Caribbean texts, maps, and images. Texts include travel narratives, novels, poetry, natural histories, and diaries that have not been brought together before as a single collection focused on the Caribbean. The texts and images collected here tell the story of European imperial domination, and of the enslaved African and Indigenous American people whose lives, labor, and land shaped the culture and development of the Atlantic world.

The Elizabeth Murray Project: A Resource Site for Early American History

Biographical resource site exploring themes in early American history, including letters, portraits, newspaper articles, and maps examining the documentary record of Elizabeth Murray.

Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade

Browse datasets and interconnected data, generate visualizations, and explore short biographies of enslaved and freed peoples.

French and Indian Wars Manuscripts

American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society – Diaries, letters, military records, and other materials that provide details about the experiences of men from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, England, and other locations who fought in the French and Indian Wars in North America. Most of these collections focus on the Crown Point Expedition, the Québec Campaign, and the Battle of Ticonderoga.

Friendly Association Papers

TriCollege Libraries Digital Collections – Accounts of behind-the-scenes treaty negotiations; historical documents dating back to the early years of Pennsylvania related to work with Indigenous groups; the correspondence of Pemberton and others relating to fund-raising and the exigencies of Pennsylvania politics; and missives from Indian leaders, transcribed or otherwise transmitted by an intricate network of Indian “go-betweens” who maintained almost constant contact with the Association.

Georgia Archives

Colonial Will BooksWills recorded in the Royal Colony of Georgia. These records are from Record Group 049-01-005, Colony of Georgia – Will Books. After Georgia became a royal colony in 1754, the governor acted as ordinary or appointed an official to carry out such duties. The ordinary probated wills, provided instructions to administrators for the inventory and appraisal of an estate, and ensured that administrators followed all legal requirements in settling the estate. These wills are the official record copy transcribed into volumes by the Ordinary.

Colonial WillsWills probated in the Colony of Georgia. These records are from Record Group 049-01-002, Colony of Georgia — Wills.

People Not Property: Stories of Slavery in the Colonial North

Historic Hudson Valley – Interactive documentary about the history of Northern colonial enslavement, cross-section of human stories emblematic of the lived experience of slavery in colonial America.

Indian Converts

Experience Mayhew’s history of the Wampanoag Indians on Martha’s Vineyard provides a rare look at the lives and culture of four generations of Native Americans in colonial America. Dividing his treatment into four sections—Indian Ministers, Good Men, Religious Women, and Pious Children—Mayhew details the books that different age groups were reading, provides insights into early New England pedagogy and childrearing practices, and describes each individual in terms of genealogy, religious practice, way of life, and place of residence.

Investigating Indentured Servitude: Visualizing Experiences of Colonial America | 1771 – 1773

Details of indenture contracts, information about working people and immigrants who came to Philadelphia in the lead-up to the American Revolution. Interactive visualizations of data to examine indentured servitude in Colonial British North America through three themes: distance, gender, time. Personal stories of individual apprentices who entered into contracts to work as servants and apprentices.

James Glen Papers | 1738 – 1777

University of South Carolina – The papers of colonial governor James Glen (1701-1777), who served as Governor of South Carolina from 1738 to 1756, include official government documents, papers concerning relations with Native American Indians, business papers relating to his ownership of a South Carolina rice plantation, and correspondence between Glen and South Carolina planter, John Drayton (1713-1779).

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents | 1610 – 1791

Entire English translation of travels and explorations of the Jesuit missionaries in New France originally compiled and edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites and published by The Burrows BrothersCompany, Cleveland, throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century.

North Carolina

State ArchivesHistorically significant archival materials relating to North Carolina; of note is their transcription project on African American Education before 1950.

Colonial and State Records | 1886 – 1907 – Documents and materials from throughout the country and from several European repositories covering the earliest days of North Carolina’s settlement by Europeans through the ratification of the United States Constitution.

New York Heritage Digital Collections – Colonial Manuscripts

Archival documents relating to the early development of New Paltz, NY, settled by Huguenot immigrants from northern France in 1678. Types of records include wills, receipts, contracts, town tax lists and meeting minutes, and family letters, written in French, Dutch, and English, primarily concerning the financial and legal activities of the first few generations of the town. English translations of foreign-language items are provided.

Slavery in New Netherland

New Netherland Institute – Digital exhibition of records on New Netherland’s enslaved population and New York’s history.

Whitney Plantation

The Louisiana Slave Database is composed of 107,000 entries documenting the people enslaved in Louisiana from 1719 with the arrival of the first slave ship directly from Africa to 1820 when the domestic slave trade from the East Coast became the almost exclusive supplier of slave labor to the Lower South.

Worlds of Change: Colonial North America

Harvard Library – Archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th- and 18th-century North America.

Empire

The Ames Foundation | 1293 – 1487

With the Harvard Law Library, this project digitizes medieval manuscripts of English statute books and registers of writs.

Archives nationales d’outre-mer (Overseas National Archives)

National archive branch of France that documents the French colonial empire.

BCW Project | 1638 – 1660

(British Civil Wars, Commonwealth & Protectorate Project) Focuses on four interweaving threads (timelines, biography, military, church & state) to provide a comprehensive view of the era in relation to the English Civil War of the mid-17th century.

Bexar Archives Online | 1717 – 1836

Digitized Spanish documents of diplomatic, military, religious, and other records of the Spanish colonial province of Texas from 1717-1821 and the Mexican District of Bexar from 1822-1836.

British History Online

A collection of primary and secondary content relating to British and Irish history, and histories of empire and the British world.

Tulane University Digital Library | 1655 – 1924

Louisiana documents from 1655 to 1924 with a strong emphasis on the French colonial, Spanish colonial, and early national periods.

University of Reading, Mapping Collections

Shared history collections of Barbados and Britain through interactive illustrated maps.

Interdisciplinary Digital Humanities

European Association for Digital Humanities

Brings together and represents the Digital Humanities in Europe across the entire spectrum of disciplines that research, develop, and apply digital humanities methods and technology.

Georgian Papers Programme | 1714 – 1837

Interdisciplinary project to digitize, conserve, catalog, transcribe, interpret and disseminate 425,000 pages or 65,000 items in the Royal Archives and Royal Library relating to the Georgian period.

Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS)

Bringing manuscript culture, modern technology and people together to bring access to and understanding of our intellectual heritage locally and around the world. A think-tank for manuscript studies in the digital age.

American Revolution

American Archives | 1774 – 1776

Northern Illinois University Digital Library – Digitization of Peter Force’s American Archives, collection of pamphlets, booklets, and newspaper articles pertaining to the “Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America” from the Revolutionary Era.

American Revolutionary War | 1775 – 1783

New York State Library – Troop rosters and other details extracted from muster and pay rolls, Loyalist records, colonial New York State history documents, military bounty land records, diaries, orderly books, personal papers of participants and broadsides.

Founders Online

National Archives – Correspondence and other writings of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. Searchable documents, fully annotated, from the authoritative Founding Fathers Papers projects.

United States Legal

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation

Linked set of published congressional records of the United States of America from the Continental Congress through the 43rd Congress, 1774-1875.

Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy | 1700 – 1799

Yale Law School – Documents the challenge to slavery and the quest for freedom in early Washington, D.C., by collecting, digitizing, making accessible, and analyzing freedom suits filed between 1800 and 1862, as well as tracing the multigenerational family networks they reveal.

O Say Can You See: Early Washington D.C. , Law & Family | 1800 – 1862

Acts, articles, constitutions, treaties, and more law-related documents during this time.

Media

American Antiquarian Society Collection | 1750 – 1830

Digital Commonwealth, Boston Public Library – Of the approximately 10,000 maps in the AAS collection, 560 are dated 1750-1800, from which we selected approximately 140 items. Most of these are printed maps of eastern North America and the West Indies not duplicated in the Leventhal Map Center collection, as well as a smaller number of manuscript maps of local Massachusetts interest, all dated during the last half of the 18th century.

America in Caricature | 1765 – 1865

Indiana University –  The caricatures in this collection depict times of turbulence in American history and range in date from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 and to the presidential elections of 1860 and 1864 which brought Abraham Lincoln to the White House.

American Revolution and Its Era: Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies | 1750 – 1789

Library of Congress – Historical record of the mapping of North America and the Caribbean. Most of the items presented here are documented in Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750-1789: A Guide to the Collections in the Library of Congress compiled by John R. Sellers and Patricia Molen van Ee in 1981. The bibliography contains approximately 2,000 maps and charts. Over the next several years many of the maps and charts in this bibliography will be added to the online collection each month.

American Revolutionary War-Era Maps | 1720 – 1973

Digital Commonwealth, Boston Public Library – Graphic resources for researching North America’s historical geography by mapping and reconstructing settlement and cultural landscapes that gave each colony its identity and character. The maps portraying the period before the war provide the geographical basis for understanding the role of the 13 colonies within the wider context of the British Empire and its relationships with its European neighbors and competitors.

The John Carter Brown Library

Archive of early American images, books, maps, political cartoons.

North Carolina Maps | late 1500s – 2000

Historic maps of the Tar Heel State. Featuring maps from three of the state’s largest map collections—the State Archives of North Carolina, the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Outer Banks History Center. Contains more than 3,000 maps, ranging in date from the late 1500s to 2000, and including detailed maps for each of North Carolina’s one hundred counties.

Old Maps Online

Indexes over 400,000 maps from many archives, libraries, and organizations.

Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America | 1520 – 1820

Paintings, sculptures, architectural monuments and objects from daily life in past Spanish America.

Paleography

Anglo-American Legal Tradition Paleography Resources

University of Houston – Documents from Medieval and Early Modern England from the National Archives in London

English Paleography: Learn to Read Secretary Hand | late 15th – mid-17th century

Guide to basics of English secretary hand—enough to get you started as an independent reader of early modern manuscripts written in English. Topics include the alphabet, difficult letters, abbreviations, numbers and money, pens, ink, and copy-text. The guide is written as a seven-day introductory course, with two quizlets and ten reading exercises.

Folgerpedia

Folger Shakespeare Library – Resources to decipher, read, and interpret manuscript materials written in early handwriting. English paleography tutorials, digital images of manuscripts, catalogs and databases, guides to using and interpreting literary and historical manuscripts.

Paleography Tutorial

UK National Archives – Web tutorial to read handwriting found in documents written in English between 1500 and 1800.

Region

Lesser Antilles
In the Same Sea: The Lesser Antilles as a Common World of Slavery and Freedom | 1650s – 1850s

University of Copenhagen – Systematic investigation of the combined history of the Lesser Antilles from the 1650s to the 1850s. The project advances the hypothesis that the Lesser Antilles were decisively shaped by inter-island connections that transformed separate islands into a common world of slavery and freedom.

USA
American Journeys: Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration

Geographical, cultural, and chronological information about the exploration of North America by Europeans and, later, Americans. Roughly equal numbers of pages are devoted to each of six regions: the Northeast, Southeast, Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley, Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, Southwest and California, and Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

Barbary Wars at the Clements | 1783 – 1830

University of Michigan William L. Clements Library – Featured items include manuscripts, books, maps, and engravings documenting the United States’ first interactions with the Arab world and the early development of the U.S. Navy.

On the Water: Stories from Maritime America | 1450 – 2000s

Smithsonian National Museum of American History – Exhibits on Atlantic-based trade, maritime nation, fishing for a living, inland waterways, merchant seamen and ships in world wars of 20th century, modern maritime America.

Vocabulary

Race and Ethnicity Keyword Thesaurus for Chronicling America

National Endowment for the Humanities – Demonstrations and explanations of search terms related to race and ethnicity in Chronicling America, terms used in the time period as compared to common, contemporary terms.