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Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture and Law

Research the history of slavery in America and the world with this award-winning HeinOnline collection. Discover a multitude of essential legal and historical materials relating to the institution of slavery.







Research the History of Slavery

For the last half century, scholars interested in slavery and its history have focused on the impact of the practice on the modern world. Scholars in many disciplines agree, for example, that the modern industrial economy may in part be a result of the centuries-long system of Atlantic slavery. Today, slavery scholars are found in law schools, business schools, public policy schools, and medical schools. Movies, television programs, novels, and museum exhibits illustrate the ways in which slavery has become a fixture of American popular culture. Furthermore, slavery now comes up continuously in political debate over issues of flying the Confederate flag, building monuments, and reparations. 

Slavery is one of the oldest social institutions in human society. As such, the history of slavery in America and the English-speaking world remains monumentally relevant today.

About the Slavery in America Database

Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture, and Law brings together essential legal materials relating to the history of slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world. This includes every federal, state, and colony statute on slavery, as well as all reported state and federal cases on the subject. In this database, slavery-related case coverage extends into the 20th century because long after slavery ended, courts were still resolving issues emanating from the practice.

This library contains hundreds of pamphlets and books written about slavery, whether defending it, attacking it, or simply analyzing it. Also included are every English-language legal commentary on slavery published before 1920, including many essays and articles in obscure, hard-to-find journals from the U.S. and elsewhere. Additionally, we have provided more than a thousand pamphlets and books on slavery from the 19th century. Finally, this database also includes many modern histories of slavery and a section containing all modern law review articles on the subject.

We would like to thank the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library for offering us the use of its expansive slavery collection. The cooperation of this institution was central to developing this essential resource for researching the history of slavery in America and the world.

This library will continue to grow, not only from new scholarship but also as we continue to locate relevant historical material and add it to the collection.

Title List: KBART (TXT) | CSV | HTML

Database Tools and Features

Slavery Quick Finder Tool

The editorial staff for this collection carefully reviewed every selected title, assigning each a position on slavery, a document type, a jurisdiction, and a topic. Use the Slavery Quick Finder tool to search for titles based on this specific criteria.

Slavery Quick Finder Tool in HeinOnline's Slavery in America.
Editor's Picks in HeinOnline's Slavery in America database.

Editor's Picks

While browsing, users will notice gold stars, denoting those titles which editor Paul Finkelman considers to be most important. These "Editor's Picks" provide a detailed description of the publication and an analysis of its importance to the topic of slavery.

Judicial Cases

Featuring Judicial Cases Concering American Slavery and the Negro (1926-1937), as well as slavery cases from 1800-1879 and United States Supreme Court cases from 1786-1880.

Judicial cases in HeinOnline's Slavery in America database.

Easy Browsing

This database is categorized into seven subcollections. Content is organized by periodicals, slavery statutes, judicial cases, scholarly articles, and more. Check out the special introduction from the editor!

Slavery Statutes

Sorted by state, and including the U.S. as a whole, we include slavery acts back to the 1600s. States include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, and Mississippi, among many others. ​

UNC Press Publications

This database features more than 90 publications from the University of North Carolina Press's slavery collection, including Black Abolitionist Papers and Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619-1860.

An Award-Winning Historical Resource

Slavery in America and the World was named to the annual list of Best Historical Materials during the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) Book and Media Awards Ceremony at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. The list recognizes the evaluation and effectiveness of coverage of historical resources in all fields of history and promotes the enhanced availability of historical works and information. The sources are selected by the Historical Materials committee of the History Section of RUSA, and seek to improve the usefulness of bibliographies and indexes in the field of history and shared among bibliographers, indexers, publishers, and professional associations.

About the Editor

Paul Finkelman is a specialist in American legal history, constitutional law, and race and the law. He is the author more than 200 scholarly articles and 40 books, and his pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, and Huffington Post. His book Slavery in the Courtroom received the Joseph L. Andrews Award from the American Association of Law Libraries in 1986.

He is an expert in topics such as constitutional history and constitutional law, the legal history of slavery, civil liberties, freedom of religion, the law of slavery civil liberties. Furthermore, he has written extensively on Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

Finkelman has been cited by the Supreme Court for his scholarship on racial equality and affirmative action, religious monuments in public spaces, public prayer, and the Second Amendment, and he appeared as the chief expert witness in the Alabama Ten Commandments monument case and the lawsuit over the ownership of Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run ball.

Paul Finkelman, editor of HeinOnline's Slavery in America database.

Note from the Editor

In 1974, I began a doctoral dissertation on slavery and law. I spent months sitting in the University of Chicago Law Library looking at volumes of printed reports, trying to find every slave case decided by a northern court (there were hundreds and hundreds of them). I searched for obscure statutes from the 18th and early 19th centuries. I looked for law review articles in such long-forgotten journals as the Monthly Law Reporter and the Western Legal Observer. If only Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law had existed then! I would still have had to read and analyze everything. I would have had to frame my search questions carefully. But my search for source materials would have taken months instead of nearly two years. With this library, future scholars can spend more time reading and analyzing the sources, and much less time looking for them.

*About HeinOnline's Social Justice Suite

Free of charge to HeinOnline Core subscribers and any interested organizations.

To honor our core value of corporate citizenship, Hein offers four of its databases free of charge to its core American and international subscribers, and to the libraries of any other interested organizations or institutions. Our cataloging partner, Cassidy Cataloguing Services, Inc., also offers free MARC records for all of these databases, which are available upon request.

The Social Justice Suite consists of the following resources:

Registering for free access to any one of these databases will provide complimentary access to the entire suite. We hope that in making these materials accessible to all, we can help foster knowledge, facilitate civil discourse, and encourage action for the betterment of our nation.


Using the Slavery in America Database

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