Spartacus and the Impact of His Uprising on Ancient Rome

It led to the rise of Crassus and the devastation of much of southern Italy. By Dr. Edward Whelan and Eric Lambrecht Introduction One of the best-known figures in antiquity was Spartacus. His brilliance as a military tactician and strategist was recognized even by his enemies. He was a gladiator and the leader of the[…]

The Little-Known Role of Slavery in Medieval Viking Society

The institution of slavery had long antecedents in Scandinavia, probably going back thousands of years before the time of the Vikings. One of the most enduring components of the Viking image is the notion of freedom—the adventure of a far horizon and all that went with it. But for many, this was an unattainable hope.[…]

Abolitionism in the 18th and 19th Centuries

The truth, self-evident, that all men are created equal, has not always been so self-evident for many humans throughout history. Introduction Abolitionism (from “abolish”) was a political movement in late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that sought to end the practice of slavery and the worldwide slave trade. Its chief impetus came from Protestantism, as most[…]

A History of Reconstruction

African Americans gained political power yet faced the backlash of white supremacy and racial violence. Introduction I’ll never forget a student’s response when I asked during a middle school social studies class what they knew about Black history: “Martin Luther King freed the slaves.” Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929, more than six[…]

Unearthing Hidden Stories from African-American History

Team member Felix Knight looks through archives at the Church of Espiritu Santo in Havana, Cuba. David LaFevor The Slave Societies Digital Archive documents the lives of approximately 6 million free and enslaved Africans in the Americas. By Dr. Jane Landers / 12.04.2018 Professor of History Vanderbilt University Many years ago, as a graduate student searching in[…]

Empire and Slavery in the Caribbean through the 19th Century

Print depicting enslaved people producing sugar in Antigua, 1823 / British Library, Public Domain After the Caribbean was first colonised by Spain in the 15th century, a system of sugar planting and enslavement evolved. David Lambert explores how this system changed the region, and how enslaved people continued to resist colonial rule. By Dr. David[…]

How Slaveholders in the Caribbean Maintained Control

Slaves loading rum barrels from Ten Views in the Island of Antigua (1823) by William Clark. Courtesy British Library/Wikipedia With its huge sugar plantations and brutal slave regime, this was the jewel in the imperial crown. By Dr. Christer Petley / 11.02.2018 Professor, School of Humanities University of Southampton It is no surprise that the whip is synonymous[…]

Slavery, Freedom, and the 18th-Century Jamaican Landscape

Maroons ambush British troops on the Dromilly Estate, Jamaica / British Library, Public Domain Jamaican Maroons fought two major wars against the British during the 18th century. With reference to maps and views in the King’s Topographical Collection, Miles Ogborn investigates these communities of escaped slaves and their attempts to retain their freedom in a[…]

An Overview of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Slaves being branded / Public Domain The trans-Atlantic slave trade was the largest long-distance coerced movement of people in history. By Dr. David Eltis Robert W. Woodruff Professor Emeritus of History Emory University Introduction Diagram of a slave ship from the Atlantic slave trade / Wikimedia Commons The trans-Atlantic slave trade was the largest long-distance[…]

Childhood and Transatlantic Slavery

Until recently, the subject of childhood under slavery was almost entirely unstudied. By Dr. Steven Mintz Professor of History The University of Texas at Austin Until recently, the subject of childhood under slavery was almost entirely unstudied. This was true despite the fact that childhood is central to an understanding of slavery. In classical antiquity,[…]

Room and Permanent Exhibit Finally Created at Jefferson’s Monticello for Sally Hemings

A new exhibition at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate in Charlottesville, Va., displays artifacts from Sally Hemings, in her living quarters. Jefferson fathered six of her children. / Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello Until now, the slaves who lived at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia estate, existed largely in the background.    By Michel Martin (left) and Emma[…]

Defining Dred Scott

Dred Scott By Dr. Matthew Pinsker Associate Professor of History Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History Dickinson College Dred Scott was one of the most famous slaves in American history. By filing for freedom in St. Louis Circuit Court on April 6, 1846, this husband and father of two girls set in motion a[…]

The Americas, Europe, and Africa before 1492

Overview of Pueblo Bonito / Photo by John Wiley, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. P. Scott Corbett,  Professor of History Ventura College Introduction In Europe supported by Africa and America (1796), artist William Blake, who was an abolitionist, depicts the interdependence of the three continents in the Atlantic World; however, he places gold armbands on the[…]

John Brown’s Raid

Daguerreotype of John Brown, by John Bowles, c.1856 / Boston Athenaeum via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Christopher H. Hamner Professor of History George Mason University Brown and the Raid John Brown was active in the abolition movement for decades before the Civil War, and had earned a notorious reputation for his antislavery activities in Kansas during[…]

Labor and Trade in Colonial America

Wikimedia Commons (click image to enlarge) By Dr. Catherine Denial Associate Professor of History Knox College Common Misconceptions When textbooks discuss colonial labor practices, they most often associate the concept of labor with male work done outside the physical boundaries of the home—in fields; on docks; in warehouses; on ships. Labor is associated with creating[…]

Her Ancestor Was a Slave to Cherokee Indians. Now She’s Applying to Be a Citizen of the Tribe

The family story Perline Boyattia grew up with said her ancestors were Cherokee Indians. Her oral history was similar to the spoken record of other black families in Oklahoma. / Photo by Jenni Monet A landmark decision offers opportunity for healing between descendants of slaveholders and slaves. By Jenni Monet / 09.06.2017 Four days after[…]

American Slavery: Separating Fact from Myth

Five generations of a slave family / Shutterstock By Dr. Daina Ramey Berry / 06.19.2017 Associate Professor of History and African American Diaspora Studies University of Texas at Austin People think they know everything about slavery in the United States, but they don’t. They think the majority of African slaves came to the American colonies,[…]