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The Other Side of the Story: Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: April 30, 2012
  • Filed Under: Uncategorized

The Black Abolitionist Papers (BAP) document the struggle for abolition from the perspective of African Americans both free and enslaved. The digital collection consists of the correspondence, speeches, sermons, lectures, editorials and poems of close to three hundred African American abolitionists. Some of the voices are familiar such as those of Harriett Tubman and Frederick Douglass, others are less well known or disguised behind pseudonyms. The original sources are located in over one hundred archives and libraries. Over thirty percent of the sources are hand-written letters and documents.

Previously only available on microfilm, the collection can now be accessed online by Villanova faculty and students.  Access links to BAP can be found under Databases A-Z, in the library catalog and under the primary sources tab of the history subject guide.

Collection contents can be browsed and results can be narrowed by document type, time period, subject, geographic location and source library.  A personal, password-protected archive is available to store documents, citations can be exported to RefWorks and persistent URLs make sharing with colleagues and students a snap.  Short online tutorials introduce the novice to the collection’s search features.

BAP includes the five companion volumes to the original microfilm collection edited by P. Ripley and published by the University of North Carolina Press.  The companion volumes add commentary, annotations and images to about ten percent of the primary sources in BAP and make the collection suitable for undergraduate students.  Look for the Full Text links (see image below) in the search results to locate commentary, notes and images or browse the companion volumes.  Use the links to explore two sample documents with commentary and annotations:

Charles Lenox Remond to Richard Allen, 7 January 1841 . Rhodes House—Oxford, England. MSS, British Empire, C154/202 . 7 January 1841.
“Bury Me in a Free Land” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Anti-Slavery Bugle . 20 November 1858.

Additional online resources with African American primary sources:

African American Studies Center Online
Includes biographies, subject entries, primary sources, maps, charts and tables.  Notable titles in this collection are the New Encyclopedia of African American History 1619-1895 and the African American National Biography Project.

African American Newspapers: the Nineteenth Century
Comprises major 19th century African-American newspapers such as The Christian Recorder (1861-1902), Freedom’s Journal (1827-1829), The North Star (1847-1851), and the Frederick Douglass’ Paper (1851-1863).

American Periodicals Series
Includes abolitionist periodicals such as the Liberator (1831-1865) and the Anti-Slavery Examiner (1836-1845).

Questions or comments? Contact me directly (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu) or post your comments online.

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Last Modified: April 30, 2012