The Geography of Slavery
If you wanted to know how many enslaved women ran away while pregnant in the eighteenth century, you might visit “The Geography of Slavery” Website. With over 4000 advertisements culled from Maryland and Virginia newspapers from 1736-1795, this site offers several user-friendly tools that allow viewers to explore the experiences of runaway slaves and indentured servants. Entering the phrase “with child” in the site’s search engine, for example, generates a list of twenty-two advertisements, documenting the experiences of women in various stages of pregnancy. The first relates to Moll, an eighteen-year-old Virginia-born enslaved woman, “very big with Child,” who ran away from Hanover County in the fall of 1739. A transcription of the newspaper notice accompanies the facsimile reproduction. Age, gender, skills, places, and dates can also be used to identify and locate different groups.
Other useful supplemental material includes transcriptions of relevant legislative records, with full texts of government documents and laws, as well as complete bibliographic information; papers from slaveholding families; and other newspaper articles pertaining to slaves and servants.
Teachers might find the “Resources” section useful. It includes a glossary, clear teaching materials with K-12 objectives, and links to other valuable sources. In the future, a graphic locator and timeline of runaways will be added to the site, as will additional advertisements from the nineteenth century. Other site components currently in development include background essays and profiles of individuals.
Support for the site comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, with site sponsors at the University of Virginia including the Center for Technology and Teacher Education, the Electronic Text Center, and the Virginia Center for Digital History.
American Memory: Historical collections for the National Digital Library
One of the most important archives of American history online, the American Memory project of the Library of Congress covers several centuries and includes immense quantities of material, with over one hundred major collections and nine million individual items related to the history of America. Particularly useful is the browse feature, which allows visitors to select collections by topic, such as “government” or “Native American history”; by time period, 1400-1699, for example, or 1800-1849; by kind of material, such as sound recordings, photographs, and manuscripts; and by place.
This article originally appeared in issue 5.4 (July, 2005).