AFRICANS IN THE NEW WORLD, 1493-1834
This project is based on an exhibition held at the John Carter Brown Library in 1988. Eighty-one rare printed works were selected to be shown, organised into seven thematic groupings:
The Slave Trade
The World of Work
Africans and Their Descendants in Multiracial Societies
Creation of an Afro-American Culture
Slavery Attacked and Defended: Towards Emancipation
The principal selector of titles was Dr Larissa Brown, who holds a PhD in Brazilian history from the University of Virginia. Dr Brown ensured that the exhibition encompassed the African experience in both North and South America, from Argentina and Brazil in the South to Canada in the North. The Caribbean was also very well represented.
Nearly all of these sources have been included in this microfilm project, together with twenty or so additional volumes which have been chosen to complement the original selection.
This project serves as an excellent introduction to the history of Africans in the Americas, from the first direct shipment of slaves across the Atlantic in 1518, to the last known shipment to Cuba in 1864. It presents a variety of perspectives, including those of slave merchants, plantation owners, merchants, ship's captain's, slaves and abolitionists. These sources reveal the complexities of the African-American Diaspora and will help scholars to write a more nuanced account of the events.
Slave voyages are described in a number of works. Even though it was in the interest of the captain to achieve high survival rates, they also sought to keep costs to a minimum. The horrors of the middle passage are made clear. Works include:
Juan de Villalobos. Manifiesto que a Su Magestad . Haze el Capitn Don Juan de Villalobos . Sobre La Introduccin De Esclavos Negros en las Indias Occidentales. Seville, 1682.
Johann Paul Augspurger. Kurtze und warhaffte Beschreibung der See-Reisen von Amsterdam in Holland nacher Brasilien in America, und Angola in Africa. Vom 4. Novembris 1640, biss 10 Julii 1642. Schleusingen, 1644.
Journal d'un voyage sur les Costes d'Afrique et aux Indes d'Espagne. Amsterdam, 1723.
William Snelgrave. A New Account of Some Parts of Guinea and the Slave Trade. London, 1734.
Maria Graham describes the slave markets that awaited them in Journal of a Voyage to Brazil and Residence There, During Part of the Years 1821, 1822, 1823 (London, 1824.) and the beliefs of the slaves about their likely fate are touched upon in Courte de la Blanchardire's Nouveau Voyage Fait Au Perou ( Paris, 1751.)
The harsh reality of slave labour is described in many of the works. Scholars can compare the description of conditions in a variety of locations. Many of these works are well illustrated. Sample texts include:
Gaspar de Escalona Agero. Gazophilatium Regium Perubicum. Madrid, 1647.
Thomas Gage. The English-American his Travail by Sea and Land: or, A New Survey of the West-Indies. London, 1648.
Ottho Keye. Beschryvinge Van het Heerlijcke ende Gezegende Landt Guajana, Waer inne gelegen is de seer voorname Lant-streke genaemt, Serrenamme, Die jegenwoordigh beseten wort by den Staet van de Vereenighde Nederlantsche Provintien. The Hague, 1660.
Charles de Rochefort. Histoire Naturelle et Morale des Iles Antilles de l'Amrique.
2nd ed. Rotterdam, 1665.
George Warren. An Impartial Description of Surinam upon the Continent of Guiana in America. London 1667.
Hugh Jones. The Present State of Virginia. London, 1724.
Nuno Marques Pereyra. Compendio Narrativo do Peregrino da America. Lisbon, 1731.
Bryan Edwards. The History, Civil and Commercial of the British Colonies in the West Indies. London, 1801.
William Tatham. An Historical and Practical Essay on the Culture and Commerce of Tobacco. London, 1806.
Slave uprisings were not uncommon. Works included here describe runaway slave communities and rebellions in north-eastern Brazil, Barbados, Jamaica, the Guianas, and St Vincent. Another volume describes fears that slaves plan to burn the city of New York. The only completely successful slave rebellion was in Haiti and this - and the fear that this caused to colonial administrators and businessmen - is described in works such as:
Pierre Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture. Proclamation .. A ses Concitoyens de la ville du Cap. Cap Franois, 1797.
A Particular Account of the Commencement and Progress of the Insurrection of the Negroes in St. Domingo. London, 1791.
Juan Lpez Cancelada. Cdigo Formado Por Los Negros de la Isla de Santo Domingo de la Parte Francesa Hoi Estado de Hayti. Cdiz, 1810.
These sample volumes only hint at the richness of the collection. There is also much material describing the emergence of a distinctive African-American culture and an abundance of works seeking to criticise or justify slavery. These materials will find a ready place in any university supporting research into the issues of slavery, the African Diaspora and the origins of African-American culture and society.