America's Library is especially designed for elementary
and middle school students. This site contains a wide variety
of information related to civil rights.
Jump Back in Time
Rebellion, September 9, 1739
C. Calhoun Was Born, March 18, 1782
Parish Lovejoy Was Killed By a Pro-slavery Mob, November
Tom's Cabin Appeared in Serial Form, June 5, 1851
Largest Slave Auction, March 3, 1859
Brown Took Harpers Ferry Hostage, October 16, 1859
in the District of Columbia, April 16, 1862
Meet Amazing Americans
American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
This exhibition showcases the incomparable African American
collections of the Library of Congress. It displays more
than 240 items, including books, government documents,
manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings.
It includes a section on slavery.
African-American Mosaic: African-American Culture and History
This exhibit marks the publication of The African-American
Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study
of Black History and Culture. Covering the nearly
500 years of the black experience in the Western hemisphere,
the Mosaic surveys the full range size, and variety of
the Library's collections, including books, periodicals,
prints, photographs, music, film, and recorded sound.
Treasures of the Library of Congress - Abolition & Suffrage
View the multi-media Abolition and Suffrage exhibit from
the Reason gallery, American Treasures of The Library
Treasures of the Library of Congress - Emancipation Proclamation
View the First
draft of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Final
version of the Emancipation Proclamation from the
Top Treasures gallery, American Treasures of the Library
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom
This exhibition, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, explores the events that shaped the civil rights movement. The Prologue includes information about slavery.
The Civil War in America
The Civil War in America assembles more than 200 unique items, many of which have never been seen by the public, to commemorate the sesquicentennial of this nation’s greatest military and political upheaval. Drawing from hundreds of thousands of items from across many collections of the Library of Congress, the materials included in this exhibition attest to the valor, sacrifices, emotions, and accomplishments of those in both the North and South whose lives were affected by the bitter conflict of 1861–1865. The Prologue includes much information about slavery.
Drawn from the Library’s collections, the presentation gathers the key documents linked to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Jefferson - Life and Labor at Monticello
This section of the exhibition highlights Jefferson's
life at Monticello, which includes his lifelong adherence
to the plantation-slave system of agriculture.
With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition
Commemorates the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the nation’s revered sixteenth president. More than a chronological account of the life of Abraham Lincoln, the exhibition reveals Lincoln the man, whose thoughts, words, and actions were deeply affected by personal experiences and pivotal historic events. Through documents and books, broadsides and newspapers, prints and photographs, artifacts and maps, the exhibition charts Lincoln’s growth from prairie politician to preeminent statesman. It provides a window into the Lincoln presidency, his struggle to keep the Union intact, and his attempts to heal the nation’s wounds.
History and Culture (from Library of Congress Manuscripts:
An Illustrated Guide)
Explore treasures from the Manuscript Division’s
Words and Deeds Collection. The Library's holdings include
information about slavery and the slave trade as well
as other aspects of plantation life. Papers of slaveholders
provide one view of slavery and slave narratives another.
of African-American Slavery and Freedom
Illustrations from the holdings of the Library of Congress
on the subject of African-American slavery and freedom.
and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)
The catalog contains catalog records and digital images
representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held
by the Prints & Photographs Division and other units
of the Library. The Library of Congress offers broad public
access to these materials as a contribution to education
and scholarship. Find images of contrabands, enslaved, slavery,
slave trade, slave
slaves, the abolition
movement, and the underground
Topics in Chronicling America
Chronicling America provides free access to millions of historic American newspaper pages. The Serial & Government Publications Division has created topic guides to newspapers in Chronicling America. Included on the topics page are guides for Bleeding Kansas, Emancipation Proclamation, Fugitive Slave Ads, Harriet Tubman, Pullman Porters, and the Raid on Harper's Ferry.
Features and Activities
A comprehensive look at America's history through primary
sources. Explore documents relating to slavery during the National Expansion and Reform Era.
Slavery to Civil Rights: A Timeline of African-American
This interactive activity introduces African-American
history through primary sources.
This feature presentation introduces teachers and students
to the topic of Immigration. African
immigration is included in the presentation.
Words of Wisdom
Discover the wisdom shared by women from many walks
of life through the years of America's past.
Slavery in the United States: Primary Sources and the Historical Record
This lesson introduces students to primary sources -- what they are, their great variety, and how they can be analyzed.
Women in the Civil War: Ladies, Contraband and Spies
This lesson uses primary sources - diaries, letters, and photographs - to explore the experiences of women in the Civil War. By looking at a series of document galleries, the perspectives of slave women, plantation mistresses, female spies, and Union women emerge. Ultimately, students will understand the human consequences of this war for women.
How Did Slaves Gain Their Freedom During the Civil War?
Many believe President Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. This national myth only tells part of the story. This presentation features a lesson on human agency --the actions that slaves took to free themselves during the Civil War. Participants will deconstruct a secondary source and analyze primary sources to understand the contributing factors to emancipation.
Web Guides produced by the
Digital Reference Section of the Library of Congress
American Sites in the Digital Collections
This guide highlights contributions by African Americans
to the arts, education, industry, literature, politics
and much more as represented in the vast online collections
of the Library.
Documents in American History
This Web site provides links to materials in American
history digitized from the collections of the Library
of Congress that supplement and enhance the study of crucial
documents. The site contains the following pages with
resources related to the history of slavery.
In an effort to preserve the balance of power in Congress
between slave and free states, The Missouri
Compromise was passed in 1820 admitting Missouri
as a slave state and Maine as a free state.
of 1850 (1850)
The Compromise of 1850 consists of five laws passed
in September of 1850 that dealt with the issue of slavery.
In 1849 California requested permission to enter the
Union as a free state, potentially upsetting the balance
between the free and slave states in the U.S. Senate.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise,
allowing slavery in the territory north of the 36°
30´ latitude. Introduced by Senator Stephen Douglas
of Illinois, the Kansas-Nebraska Act stipulated that
the issue of slavery would be decided by the esidents
of each territory, a concept known as popular sovereignty.
Scott v. Sandford (1857)
The Supreme Court decision Dred
Scott v. Sandford was issued on March 6, 1857. Delivered
by Chief Justice Roger Taney, this opinion declared
that slaves were not citizens of the United States and
could not sue in Federal courts. In addition, this decision
declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional
and that ongress did not have the authority to prohibit
slavery in the territories.
Issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation
Proclamation declared "all persons held as
slaves within any State or designated part of a State,
the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against
the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and
forever free." Although the Emancipation Proclamation
did not end slavery, it did change the basic character
of the Civil War.
Amendment to the Constitution (1865)
13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude...shall
exist within the United States." Formally abolishing
slavery in the United States, the 13th Amendment was
passed by the Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified
by the states on December 6, 1865.
Amendment to the Constitution (1868)
14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified
on July 28, 1868, and granted citizenship to “all
persons born or naturalized in the United States,”
which included former slaves recently freed. In addition,
it forbids states from denying any person "life,
liberty or property, without due process of law"
or to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction
the equal protection of its laws."
Amendment to the Constitution (1870)
15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African
American men the right to vote by declaring that the
"right of citizens of the United States to vote
shall not be denied or abridged by the United States
or by any state on account of race, color, or previous
condition of servitude." Although ratified on February
3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not
be fully realized for almost a century.
Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism
Maurice Jackson, a former Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, teaches Atlantic and African-American history at Georgetown, discussed his recently published book "Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism."
Daisy Turner's Kin: An African-American Family Saga
Daisy Turner (1883-1988), born in Grafton, Vermont and the daughter of freed African American slaves, grew up listening to her father, Alec, tell stories of his family's heritage. Over the course of numerous interviews Daisy shared her own life story, one of discrimination, resilience and strength. This talk considers Daisy Turner's narrative in terms of memory and within a larger canvas of social, cultural and historical events. Speaker: Jane Beck (Benjamin Botkin Lecture Series)
Finding Charity's Folk: Public Memory & the Construction of an Enslaved Biography
Jessica Millward discussed her book, "Finding Charity's Folk: Enslaved and Free Black Women in Maryland," where she places enslaved women in Maryland at the center of the long struggle for African American freedom. She is an assistant professor in the history department in the School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. Her work focuses on African American history, early America, the African diaspora, slavery and gender.
Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives
Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives kicked off its "One Million Abolitionists Project" where the organization leaders presents copies of Douglass' first autobiography to one million students. Published in 1845, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave" was Douglass's first and most popular autobiography and contradicted the racist mythology promoted by the business of slavery and helped turn the tide toward emancipation. Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives is an abolitionist organization co-founded by direct descendants of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. (Robert J. Benz, Nettie Washington Douglass, Andre Dawson, Kenneth Morris)
From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout & the History of an African American Family
James H. Johnston discusses his book about Yarrow Mamout, an educated Muslim from Guinea who was brought to Maryland on a slave ship and gained his freedom 44 years later.
Founders & Their Slaves: 2018 National Book Festival
Erica Armstrong Dunbar presents "Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge" and Catherine Kerrison presents "Jefferson's Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America" at the 2018 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
Annette Gordon-Reed discusses "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family" as part of a special celebration of Thomas Jefferson's Library at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of law and history at Harvard University, is one of the country's most distinguished presidential scholars. She received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in history for her book "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family."
Henry Wiencek: 2015 National Book Festival
Henry Wiencek discusses "Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves" as part of a special celebration of Jefferson's library at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Wiencek depicts the third president as a cruel slaveholder who valued money much more than the principles he espoused as a founding father. Wiencek holds a fellowship at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and has received various other honors and fellowships.
Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation
Historian Henry Wiencek discussed his book, which focuses
on the life of Washington and explores early slavery in
Law Day 2009: Emancipation Proclamation
What effect did the Emancipation Proclamation have on the Civil War? Did it have a broader effect on the slave trade throughout the Americas? In celebration of Law Day, these questions and many more were discussed by Congressman G.K. Butterfield, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., Dean Kurt Schmoke and Professor Emeritus Roger Wilkins, with PBS Newshour's congressional correspondent Kwame Holman moderating. The program was presented with support from the Friends of the Law Library of Congress.
The Many Faces of Harriet Tubman
Author Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrator James E. Ransome discuss the children's book "Before She Was Harriet" to an audience of primarily students from Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, D.C. The program also included remarks by Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Ernestine (Tina) Martin Wyatt, a descendant of the famous abolitionist.
Neighbour: Speak Right On
Award-winning writer Mary E. Neighbour discussed Speak
Right On, her novel about Dred Scott, the former
slave at the heart of the 1857 decision, in a program
sponsored by the Center for the Book.
to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin
Historian John Hope Franklin discussed his new autobiography,
Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope
Franklin. Franklin, who helped redirect the social
and political course of the United States throughout the
twentieth century, is the author and editor of seventeen
books, including the best-selling From Slavery to
Freedom: A History of African Americans.
Juanita Millender-McDonald Delivers Keynote Address for
African American History Month
Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald delivered the 2007 African
American History Month keynote address at the Library
of Congress. The program also featured remarks by John
Fleming, national president of the Association for the
Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). ASALH's
2007 theme, "From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in
the Americas," honors the work of black historian
John Hope Franklin, who recently won the Library's Kluge
Prize for lifetime achievement in the study of humanity.
1619 and the Making of America
The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress convened a symposium that brought together respected scholars (Joanne M. Braxton, Robert Trent Vinson, Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Lynette Lewis Allston) to explore the intricate encounters of Africans, Europeans and native people during this significant period in America's history. In 1619, a Dutch ship with about 20 Africans on board entered a port at the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. This event is known as the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America. Their historic arrival, however, marked the beginning of a trend in colonial America, in which the people of Africa were taken from their motherland and consigned to lifelong slavery.
A Slave in the White House
Elizabeth Dowling Taylor received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. Over a 22-year career in museum education and historical research, she was director of interpretation at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and director of education at James Madison's Montpelier. Most recently a fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Taylor is now an independent scholar and lecturer. She
used correspondence, legal documents and journal entries rarely seen before to write "A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons."
The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to Grave
Daina Ramey Berry gives a lecture entitled "The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to Grave." From the moment of birth and before, those invested in buying and selling human beings put a price tag on enslaved people. This fiscal marker served as a projection of future worth as well as a monetary value of a market price. Regardless of what the figure meant, enslaved people created their own system of valuation that neither the auctioneer nor enslaver could control. Exploring enslaved people's inner spirits expressed in plantation records, newspapers, testimonies, and letters brings us to an entirely different system of values developed and determined by the enslaved for the survival of their souls. Daina Ramey Berry is an associate professor of history and African diaspora studies and the Oliver H. Radkey Fellow in American History at the University of Texas at Austin.
William Wells Brown: An African-American Life
Ezra Greenspan will discussed his book "William Wells Brown: An African American Life." Brown (1814-1884) was born a slave and kept functionally illiterate until he was 19, when he escaped. He became an agent of the Underground Railroad, an antislavery activist and a self-taught writer and orator. In 1853 Brown wrote "Clotel," the first novel by an African American. It is a fictionalized account of the fate of Thomas Jefferson's black daughters and was controversial in its day. Ezra Greenspan is Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Chair in Humanities and professor of English at Southern Methodist University. He is also the editor of the anthology "William Wells Brown: 'Clotel' and Other Writings."