Lives of the Enslaved

This History U course is a study of the lives of enslaved people. Through new perspectives on an eclectic range of primary sources, we will center the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children rather than viewing them as objects in other people’s narratives. The course will also 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

Read the course outline here and listen to a history teacher introduce the course below.


Please create a free K–12 student account. Note: Only K–12 logged-in students will be able to access the registration form.


  • Twenty-three video sessions led by Professor Daina Ramey Berry
  • A certificate of completion for 12 hours of course time

Readings: Recommended readings related to the course are listed in the Resources link on the course page. You are not required to read or purchase any print materials. Quizzes are based on the content of the recordings rather than the readings.

Course Access: After registering, you may access your course by logging in and visiting My Courses under My Account.


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


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 CharlestonSlaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade, and Educated in Tyranny: Slavery at Thomas Jefferson's University, which was 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.

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