Image From:

Great things have been digitized by libraries, archives, and museums.

As genealogists, we are primarily concerned with  specific lives. However, it’s  always worthwhile to  look at some of the larger themes that affected your ancestors. For African-Americans, slavery always looms large.

In this post I’m sharing some letters written by enslaved people. These letters offer us a peek into a world available only to a small group of people.

Most enslaved people were barred from and did not have access to literacy. The enslaved people able to read and write were probably highly favored domestic slaves.

Obviously, not many letters written by slaves survived for future generations to read. One good collection  is housed by Duke University, Special Collections.

Take a look at some of these slave letters. They make for fascinating reading:

John Boston letter

And although it is not a letter, Adam Plummer, an enslaved man in Maryland, kept a diary of his life that is indeed a very rare treasure.

Some excellent books that contain more slave letters and other types of primary source information from African Americans are:

  1. Slave Testimony: Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews and Autobiographies” by John Blassingame
  2. We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century by Dorothy Sterling has a chapter on Slave letters
  3. Dear Master: Letters of a Slave Family” by Randall Miller


Print Friendly, PDF & Email