History U | Lives of the Enslaved

Lives of the Enslaved

This History U course will center on the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children rather than view them as objects in other people’s narratives.


Course Instructor: Professor Daina Ramey Berry, University of California, Santa Barbara
Eligibility: High school students


Image Source: Henry P. Moore, formerly enslaved people at Hilton Head, SC, 1862–1863 (The Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC05140.01.01)

Photograph of emancipated people
  • History U

  • Free for high school students

Course Description

This History U course will discuss the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children through the use of audio files, diaries, letters, actions, and silences. Through new perspectives on an eclectic range of primary sources, we will center the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children rather than view them as objects in other people’s narratives. The content will challenge students to think about the silences embedded in dominant narratives of American history. The topics featured in the lectures include

  • The WPA and the Slave Narrative Collection
  • Slavery in the Chesapeake region
  • Slavery in the North
  • Slavery in the Deep South
  • Slavery in the West
  • The Resistance and Resilience of Enslaved People
  • Gender and Sexuality in Slavery Studies

Register Now

The views expressed in this course are those of Dr. Daina Ramey Berry and Dr. Maurie McInnis.


  • Twenty-three video sessions led by Professor Daina Ramey Berry
  • Links to optional resources
  • Short quizzes to review your knowledge
  • A certificate of completion for 12 hours of course time

How to Access

  1. Click Log In and either log into your account or click the Sign Up link on the login screen to create an account.
  2. Click the Register Now button and complete the order form.
  3. After registering, you may access your course by signing in and visiting your My Courses link under My Account.

Course Introduction

Alysha Butler explains what you will learn in this course.

About the Scholar

Daina Ramey Berry, Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts, University of California, Santa Barbara

Daina Ramey Berry is the Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Berry is a widely recognized scholar on the institution of slavery in the United States, focusing on the lives of enslaved people and the particular experiences of enslaved women. In 2017 she published Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, From Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation (a recommended reading for this course). The book received three national awards and was a finalist for the 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize. Some of Dr. Berry’s other published works include A Black Women’s History of the United States, co-authored with Kali Nicole Gross; Sexuality & Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas, co-authored with Leslie M. Harris; and Swing the Sickle for the Harvest Is Ripe: Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia

About the Guest Scholar

Maurie McInnis, President, Stony Brook University

Maurie McInnis is the sixth president of Stony Brook University. She is a cultural historian of art in the American South during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her work examines the intersections of art and politics with a focus on the politics of slavery. Some of her published works include The Politics of Taste in Antebellum Charleston, Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade, and Educated in Tyranny: Slavery at Thomas Jefferson’s University, co-edited with Louis P. Nelson. While serving as a professor at the University of Virginia, Dr. McInnis co-founded “Jefferson’s University—Early Life Project, 1819–1870,” a digital archive that tells the history of slavery at the University of Virginia through documents, images, and 3-D recreations.

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