Featured Primary Sources

The Origins of Slavery

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. Additionally, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

Posting bond for manumission of a slave, May 5, 1757 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A bond for the manumission of a slave, 1757

Creator: Philip Livingston Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.... (London, 1794).

Olaudah Equiano

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Economics, World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Stephen Bayard to Robert Livingston, November 12, 1725.

The death of slaves on a voyage, 1725

Creator: Stephen Bayard Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

A View of Savannah, Georgia, 1734

Creator: Pierre Fourdrinier Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
John P. Zenger, New-York Weekly Journal, March 11, 1733[/4] (GLC08724p3)

Slave revolt in the West Indies, 1733

Creator: John Peter Zenger Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography, World History Grade Levels:
Daniel Horsmanden, A Journal of the Proceedings . . . 1744. (GLC04502.01)

The New York Conspiracy of 1741

Creator: Daniel Horsmanden Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: