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Friday Featured Database – Black Abolitionist Papers

9 November 2012 by Julie Biando Edwards

This extraordinary, primary source collection is the first to comprehensively detail the extensive work of African Americans to abolish slavery in the United States prior to the Civil War. Covering the period 1830-1865, the collection presents the massive, international impact of African American activism against slavery, in the writings and publications of the activists themselves. The approximately 15,000 articles, documents, correspondence, proceedings, manuscripts, and literary works of almost 300 Black abolitionists show the full range of their activities in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany. This collection, when first published in microfilm, literally transformed scholarly understanding of Black activism during this period. Now it is available in a searchable, easily accessible format for research, teaching, and study.

Black Abolitionist Papers represents a huge effort by a scholarly team, headed by C. Peter Ripley and George E. Carter, who recognized that African Americans were a pivotal and persuasive force in the 19th-century anti-slavery movement but that their work had been virtually ignored in scholarship prior to this collection. The team painstakingly identified African American activists through countless hours of research and scrutiny, bringing to light many names previously lost to history. Primary documents were gathered from over 100 libraries and archives across the world. The set was microfilmed and published in 1981 and quickly established a significant shift in historical scholarship regarding Black leadership, activism, and community life during this period. The collection remains an unequaled, “pristine record of Black abolitionism.”

You can find this database on the Databases A-Z page of the Library website. For more information on how to use this database in your research and teaching please contact Julie Biando Edwards, Ethnic Studies Librarian, at julie.edwards@umontana.edu

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