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African Diaspora Studies: Finding Primary Sources

This guide covers materials about the presence of African descended people in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

Primary Sources



Printed Books

Primary Sources



Below are two major databases that consist of primary source material relating to Atlantic slavery.


Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive  

Slavery and Anti-Slavery includes documents from the United States and Europe, as well as other parts of the world. In addition to newspaper collections and books published in the antebellum era, Slavery and Anti-Slavery contains documents from several archives originally available only on microfilm.


Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice  

Bringing together primary source documents from archives and libraries across the Atlantic world, this resource allows students and researchers to explore and compare unique material relating to the complex subjects of slavery, abolition and social justice.In addition to the primary source documents there are secondary sources for research and teaching; including an interactive map, scholarly essays, tutorials, a visual sources gallery, chronology and bibliography.



The Louverture Project

The Louverture Project (TLP) collects and promotes knowledge, analysis, and understanding of the Haitian revolution of 17911804. This unique history project follows the example of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, and is committed to creating a vast, accessible, and useful open content resource. Like Wikipedia, The Louverture Project is built and maintained by a community of users, all of whom have access to and responsibility for editing the 454 pages (and growing) currently online.


St. Croix Population Database, 1734-1917

searchable, virtual archive, currently consisting of 1.83 million biographical entries painstakingly transcribed from a vast array of historical records found in American, Danish and Virgin Islands archives. The Database constitutes a powerful research tool that will provide scholars, educators, students, genealogists and others with easy access to hitherto inaccessible historical documentation relating to the history of St. Croix and its multi-ethnic, multi-racial population. It will enable Virgin Islanders to investigate, analyze and reconstruct the Past from an indigenous perspective. It will also allow Virgin Islanders, Europeans, Americans and Africans to reconstruct life stories and family histories of forgotten ancestors. And, most significantly, it will permit thousands of families to trace their ancestral roots to individual Africans and to specific African homelands.

 Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834

  In 1807 The Abolition of Slave Trade Act came into force. The act made the trade in slaves from Africa to the British colonies illegal. To combat illicit transportation following this act many of the British Colonies began keeping registers of black slaves who had been so-called “lawfully enslaved”. In 1819 the Office for the Registry of Colonial Slaves was established in London and copies of the slave registers kept by the colonies were sent to this office. Registration generally occurred once every three years. The registers continue through to 1834 when slavery was officially abolished.

This database contains the slave registers for the following colonies and years:

Antigua (1817-1818, 1821, 1824, 1828, 1832)
Bahamas (1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
Barbados (1817, 1820, 1823, 1826, 1829, 1832, 1834)
Berbice (1818-1819, 1822)
Dominica (1817, 1820, 1823)
Grenada (1817-1834)
Honduras (1834)
Jamaica (1817, 1820, 1823, 1826, 1829, 1832, 1834)
Mauritius (1817, 1819, 1822, 1826, 1830, 1832, 1835) Nevis (1817, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831)
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) (1818-1832)
St Christopher (1817, 1822, 1825, 1827-1828, 1831, 1834) 
St Lucia (1815, 1819)
St Vincent (1817, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
Tobago (1819-1834)
Trinidad (1813, 1815-1816, 1819, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)
Virgin Islands (1818, 1822, 1825, 1828, 1831, 1834)


Jamaican Court Cases

Harvard Law School Library digitized its copy of Notes of cases adjudged in
Jamaica, May 1774 to Dec. 1787 (Edinburgh : Printed by Adam Neill and
company, 1794).

Jamaica Unshackled

Jamaica Unshackled is a digitized collection of resources from the National Library of Jamaica. The collection brings together resources related to two landmark events in Jamaica's history:

  • 1831 Sam Sharpe Rebellion / Baptist War (Books, Newspapers, Serials, Pamphlets, Official Documents, Maps, Photographs, Prints)

  • 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion (Books, Newspapers, Serials, Official Documents, Maps, Photographs, Prints)

The Cuban Historical and Literary Manuscript Collection

The Cuban Historical and Literary Manuscript Collection is comprised of original manuscripts from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Acquired as individual pieces or in small groups, this collection includes manuscript books, slavery sales and property documents, wills, and correspondence.

Collection highlights include a manuscript journal of events from March to August 1762 of the British expedition in Cuba under the command of Earl Albermarle and Sir George Pocock, which culminated in the siege of Havana by the English; a May 12, 1895 letter from Cuban patriots José Martí and General Máximo Gómez clarifying military orders to General Jesús Rabí during the Cuban War of Independence, one of the few known letters signed by both men.



Printed Books


There are a number of printed monographs that contain primary source material. Below is a partial list of those titles held by Bobst Library:


 An account of the number of negroes delivered in to the islands of barbadoes, jamaica, and antego, from the year 1698 to 1708. since the trade was opened, taken from the accounts sent from the respective governours of those islands to the lords commissioners of trade. London: s.n.

Affaire des déportés de la martinique 1823-1824 : Mémoires, consultations, pièces justificatives, etc. Paris: Constantin.

Antidote to west-indian sketches, drawn from authentic sources. no. 1. condition of the slaves in the british colonies, from pinckard's notes on the west indies. London: Printed for Whitmore and Fenn.

Caribbean documents collection, 1699-1959 1760-1930.

Domestic occurrences and proceedings of public bodies,. St. Jago de la Vega, Jamaica]: Printed at the Office of the St. Jago de la Vega Gazette.

Interesting tracts, relating to the island of jamaica, consisting of curious state-papers, councils of war, letters, petitions, narratives,. St Jago de la Vega [Jamaica]: printed by Lewis, Lunan, and Jones.

Jamaica manuscripts collection, 1774-1950.

Latin american history and culture an archival record. series I, the yale university collection of latin american manuscripts.

Records of the spanish governors of puerto rico registro central de esclavos, 1872 (slave schedules).

West india colonies slave insurrection : Return to addresses to his majesty, dated 9. London: Printed for the House of Commons.

West-indian sketches. no I [-V, VII] drawn from authentic sources. S.l.: s.n.], Printed by Ellerton and Henderson).

Beckford 1799, William d. A descriptive account of the island of jamaica : With remarks upon the cultivation of the sugar-cane, throughout the different seasons of the year, and chiefly considered in a picturesque point of view, also observations and reflections upon what would probably be the consequences of an abolition of the slave-trade, and of the emancipation of the slaves. London: printed for T. and J. Egerton, Whitehall.

Bélénus, René. Les abolitions de l'esclavage aux antilles et en guyane françaises : 1794 et 1848 : Textes et recueil de documents sur l'émancipation des esclaves. Pointe-à-Pitre: Centre départemental de documentation pédagogique de la Guadeloupe.

Claudio, Affonso. Insurreição do queimado : Episódio da história da província do espírito santo. Vitória, E.S.: Editora da Fundação Ceciliano Abel de Almeida.

Clemente, Elvo. O processo legislativo e a escravidão negra na província de são pedro do rio grande do sul : Fontes. Porto Alegre: Estado do Rio Grande do Sul, Assembléia Legislativa.

Conrad, Robert Edgar. Children of god's fire : A documentary history of black slavery in brazil. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press.

das, Maria de Fatima Rodrigues. Documentos sobre a escravidão no brasil. São Paulo: Editora Contexto.

Díaz de Guerra María A. Documentación relativa a esclavos en el departamento de maldonado : Siglos XVIII y XIX. S.l.: s.n.].

Dubois, Laurent. Slave revolution in the caribbean, 1789-1804 : A brief history with documents. Boston, MA ; New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martins.

———. Slave revolution in the caribbean, 1789-1804 : A brief history with documents. Boston, MA ; New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martins.

Elisa, Vargas Lugo de Bosch. Juan correa : Su vida y su obra. México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Franco, José Luciano. La conspiración de aponte, 1812. La Habana: Editorial Ciencias Sociales.

Gabino, La Rosa Corzo. Cazadores de esclavos : Diarios. Ciudad de La Habana: Fundación Fernando Ortiz.

Gloria, García Rodríguez. Voices of the enslaved in nineteenth-century cuba a documentary history. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Hall, Raymond A. The archival records of the african slave trade to mexico at santiago el pescador, 1692-1799. Lewiston, N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Pess.

Hopkirk, J. G. An account of the insurrection in st. domingo : Begun in august 1791, taken from authentic sources. Edinburgh : London: William Blackwood ; T. Cadell.

Isabel, Cuchí Coll. Historia de la esclavitud en puerto rico (información y documentos). San Juan, P. R.: [Sociedad de Autores Puertorrique~nos].

Jesús, Ursula de. The souls of purgatory : The spiritual diary of a seventeenth-century afro-peruvian mystic, ursula de jesús. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press.

Léotin, Marie-Hélène. Le régime du travail sur les habitations à la martinique après l'abolition de l'esclavage, 1848-1900 : Choix de textes. Fort-de-France [Martinique]: Archives départementales.

Manuel, Lucena Salmoral. Regulación de la esclavitud negra en las colonias de américa española (1503-1886) : Documentos para su estudio. Alcalá de Henares, Madrid] : [Murcia]: Universidad de Alcalá ; Universidad de Murcia.

Manzano, Juan Francisco. The life and poems of a cuban slave : Juan francisco manzano, 1797-1854. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books.

———. Poems by a slave in the island of cuba, recently liberated. London: T. Ward.

Marianela, Ponce de Behrens. El ordenamiento jurídico y el ejercicio del derecho de libertad de los esclavos en la provincia de venezuela, 1730-1768. Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia.

McKnight, Kathryn. Afro-latino voices : Narratives from the early modern ibero-atlantic world, 1550-1812. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

Paiewonsky, Isidor. Eyewitness accounts of slavery in the danish west indies : Also graphic tales of other slave happenings on ships and plantations. New York: Fordham University Press.

Peabody, Sue. Slavery, freedom, and the law in the atlantic world : A brief history with documents. New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schoelcher, Victor. La vérité aux ouvriers et cultivateurs de la martinique : Suivi de rapports, decrets, arrêtés, projets de lois et d'arrêtés concernant l'abolition immédiate de l'esclavage. Lausanne: Editions du Ponant.

Schwartz, Stuart B. Early brazil : A documentary collection to 1700. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sovereign, Spain. Código negro carolino (1784), ed. Malagón Barceló Javier. Santo Domingo: Editora Taller.

Sul,Arquivo Histórico do Rio Grande do. Abolição e república : Acervos do arquivo histórico do rio grande do sul. Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil: Escola Superior de Teologia e Espiritualidade Franciscana.

Torres-Cuevas, Eduardo. Esclavitud y sociedad : Notas y documentos para la historia de la esclavitud negra en cuba. La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales.

Williams, Eric Eustace. Documents on british west indian history, 1807-1833 : (select documents from the public record office, london, england, relating to the colonies of barbados, british guiana, jamaica, and trinidad). Port-of-Spain: Trinidad Publishing. 


Guy Burak's picture
Guy Burak
The Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Librarian

The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library,
New York University
70 Washington Square South (room 1M-05A)
New York, NY 10012