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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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A Slave Named Sukie Resists a Master's Advances

While slaves knew that they would face harsh punishments for acts of open resistance, many did so anyway. In this selection from an oral history interview, Fannie Berry describes a surprising act of defiance by a fellow slave, one that illustrates [...]

Item Type: Oral History
Night Patrols Check Slave Passes in Mississippi

This scene of white patrollers examining “Negro passes” in Mississippi illustrates the constraints placed on all African Americans in the slave South. This news illustration captured a scene during the Civil War, when slave owners in [...]

Selections from Alabama's Laws Governing Slaves

While slaveholders defended slavery as a benign system, this selection of laws, on the books in Alabama in 1833, suggest that slaves themselves were finding many ways to resist and escape it. Whites became particularly concerned about slave [...]

Pro-Slavery Pamphlet, circa 1860

Two pages from a proslavery tract published around 1860 present the contrasting fates of free and unfree labor. After decades of attack from abolitionists, in the 1850s slavery advocates defended plantation slavery as the most efficient and most [...]

Item Type: Poster/Print
A Former Slave Recalls "a Mournful Scene" in the New Orleans Slave Market

In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free African American living in New York, was kidnapped while visiting Washington, D.C., and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years working on plantations in Louisiana, finally attaining freedom in 1853. His [...]

Virginians Petition to Prevent the Emancipation of Slaves

The spirit of the American Revolution inspired some slaveholders to manumit, or free, their slaves. In 1782, Virginia passed a law that allowed slaveholders to set slaves free in their wills, where before manumission required a special act of the [...]

Slaves Petition the Massachusetts Legislature (short version)

Throughout the revolutionary era, scores of slaves signed petitions that linked their demands for freedom with the cause of American independence. Below is the text of one such petition presented to the Massachusetts legislature.

Scaffolded Reading of "Drawing of an African Burial Ground Grave In Situ"

This brief activity leads students through analysis of an archaeologist's sketch of the grave of an African buried in colonial New York.

Comparison of Slaves and Servants in Colonial New York worksheet

This worksheet helps students compare slaves and indentured servants in colonial society, in particular in New York. It is used as part of the activity "Comparison of Slaves and Servants in Colonial New York."

Slave Laws and Pedro's Walk worksheet

This worksheet will help students complete the activity "Colonial New York Slave Codes: Pedro's Walk."

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