A collection of a variety of legal documents that relate to slavery and African-Americans.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists mainly of a wide vareity of court and legal documents such as, bills of sale, warrants, a manumission document, a certificate of free birth, and documents concerning debt, property, and legal obligations. The documents originated in four states: Alabama, the Carolina colony, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. They span the greatest portion of the era of slavery within what is now the United States. Most of the documents are from Lawrence County, Alabama and may have at one time been created or used as evidence in either an orphans court or civil court case. The documents are arranged in one series in chronological order.
The collection is divided into 1 series:
Series 1: Legal Documents Concerning Slavery, 1710-1865, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Up until the Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent victory of the Union forces in the Civil War, slaves were considered chattel, property that could be bought and sold. Slaves were a commodity that could be attached for non-payment of debt, used as collateral, given as bequests in a will, and were considered assets of a deceased's estate. As such, they engendered legal battles and the need for a variety of legal documents asserting one's freedom or manumission.
Bill of Sale of "one Negro girl named Nancy, about three years old, from Thomas Maynard to John Stephen Hale, for the sum of 30 pounds, Frederick County, Maryland, June 13, 1796." 2002 acquisition: "Receipt for a slave named Wilson", January 19, 1863, and two carte-de-visite portraits: W.B. Mitchell, July 1880, and Pleasant A. Mitchell, undated. Gifts of Julie Clark, 2008 addendum.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
No restrictions. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Contact SIA Reference Staff for further information (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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