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Primary Sources for African American History

Government Created Primary Sources Sets Concerning Slavery



Library of Congress

Slavery in the United States: Primary Sources and the Historical Record (Student Materials)

Photographs and excerpts of reports from Library of Congress's collection.


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Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 to 1938

More than 2,300 first-person accounts and 500 photos of former enslaved people collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project (FWP).





Slavery and the making of America

Primary sources organized by themes, such a living conditions; religion; education, arts, and culture; and men, women, and gender.


Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture And Law



Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law


"This HeinOnline collection brings together, for the first time, all known legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world. This includes every statute passed by every colony and state on slavery, every federal statute dealing with slavery, and all reported state and federal cases on slavery. Our cases go into the 20th century, because long after slavery was ended, there were still court cases based on issues emanating from slavery. . . ."


"We have provided more than a thousand pamphlets and books on slavery from the 19th century. We have also included many modern histories of slavery. Within this library is a section containing all modern law review articles on the subject. This library will continue to grow, not only from new scholarship but also from historical material that we continue to locate and add to the collection."


University Created Primary Source Sets Concerning Slavery



Yale University Library:

African American Studies Primary Sources,

Slavery and the Slave Trade

Primary source guide on slave trade contains legal documentation, ship manifests, corporate information, and variety of other documents concerning the industry of slavery.




Union College/Schaffer Library

Slavery in the United States

List of primary sources and other websites, with several collections relating to early antislavery movements.




Documenting the American South

North American Slave Narratives

Documenting the American South (DocSouth) is a digital publishing initiative sponsored by the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. it Includes sixteen thematic collections of primary sources for the study of southern history, literature, and culture.

Other Primary Sources



Digital Public Library of America (DLPA)

The Transatlantic Slave Trade

Primary source set include documents, photographs, artwork, and maps that tell the story of the slave trade and its impact.


Letter from Vilet Lester to her Former Owner Patsey Patterson


Letter from Vilet Lester to her Former Owner Patsey Patterson