Manuscript Collections Relating to Slavery
Collections
The library of the New-York Historical Society holds among its many resources a substantial collection of manuscript materials documenting American slavery and the slave trade in the Atlantic world. The fourteen collections on this web site are among the most important of these manuscript collections. They consist of diaries, account books, letter books, ships’ logs, indentures, bills of sale, personal papers, and records of institutions. Some of the highlights of these collections include the records of the New York Manumission Society and the African Free School, the diaries and correspondence of English abolitionists Granville Sharp and John Clarkson, the papers of the Boston anti-slavery activist Lysander Spooner, the records of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, the draft of Charles Sumner’s famous speech The Anti-Slavery Enterprise, and an account book kept by the slave trading firm Bolton, Dickens & Co.
  • 'Reduction of Vulgar Fractions,' Penmanship study by Andrew R. Smith. New-York African Free School records, c. 1820
  • Cover of the Town Book for Castletown For the Entry of Black Children, 1799-1827
  • Case detail concerning a slave's freedom upon the death of his master. Granville Sharp, May 11, 1773
  • Endpapers of Volume 3 of James F. Brown's diary from Fishkill Landing, New York. James F. Brown Papers, 1841
  • Letter from Gerrit Smith to Lysander Spooner, October 3, 1860. Lysander Spooner papers
  • Receipt for the purchase of a slave named Jack in Richmond, Va., 1860. Slavery Collection
  • Index page from Mahlon Day's journal of a voyage among the West India Islands, 1839-1840
  • Resolution arguing for the abolition of slavery. Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society records, 1850-1858
  • Detail from the trade book kept by the Sloop Rhode Island traveling from the coast of Africa to Sierra Leone, 1748-1749
  • Leaf one of the diary of Joseph Goodwin, a plantation manager in Cuba from Hudson, New York, 1820
  • Detail from the account book kept by the prominent slave trading firm of Bolton, Dickens & Co., 1865
  • Cover of Clarkson's Mission to America, 1791-1792
  • Leaf one of the first draft of Charles Sumner's famous speech, The Anti-Slavery Enterprise, 1855
  • Deed of manumission for a slave named Betsy, June 18, 1810. New-York Manumission Society records
Museum & Library
New-York Historical SocietyThe Society is dedicated to presenting exhibitions and public programs, and fostering research that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, its holdings cover four centuries of American history, and include one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, American art and other materials documenting the history of the United States as seen through the prism of New York City and State.

Forty thousand of the Society’s most treasured pieces are on permanent display in the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture, and a self-guided audio tour brings these artifacts to life with anecdotes and stories. Our collections provide the foundation for exploration of the nation’s richly layered past and support the Society’s mission to provide a forum for debate and examination of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.


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