Blogs > Cliopatria > The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record

Jul 7, 2006 1:15 pm

The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record

Jerome Handler, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and Michael Tuite

An understanding of the Atlantic slave trade is vital to the study of slavery in the Americas. Likewise, slavery in the Americas cannot be comprehended without an understanding of slave life and culture. Images are a rich tool to assist in this project.

This collection provides more than 800 images of the Atlantic slave trade, depicting slave life in the United States, the Caribbean, and South America. The images span the full geography of the Atlantic slave trade: West and West Central Africa, the English and French Caribbean, Brazil, and the United States. Most images are from the 17th century through the 19th century. They include period and explanatory maps, engravings, paintings of events, portraits, photographs of slave forts and artifacts, newspapers, and a few short written accounts. Together, they showcase all aspects of the slave trade and slave life. The images are divided into 18 categories, including"New World Agriculture and Plantation Labor”; “Marketing and Urban Scenes”;"Music, Dance, and Recreational Activities"; “Family Life, Child Care, Schools”; and"Military Activities." An additional section contains 59 portraits of slaves, most identified by name. All images are accompanied by short descriptive information, including the artist, date, and source of original publication. The site is fully searchable and all images enlarge to full screen.

This collection of images is a useful resource for teaching the Atlantic slave trade and slave culture in the Americas.

Read a more in-depth review written by George Mason University professor Joan Bristol at Or explore other world history websites at World History Sources.

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