Defining Documents in American History: Slavery

"There are many recently published books of primary documents concerning slavery in the US or the Atlantic world, such as Sophie White’s Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana, or Sue Peabody and Keila Grinberg’s Slavery, Freedom, and the Law in the Atlantic World: A Brief History with Documents. Nonetheless, this two-volume set under review is unique in that it systematically presents 58 revealing documents spanning 1754 to the 1880s, introducing thoughts on slavery form the Colonial era to Reconstruction. The volumes are broken into eras and also offer a selection of slave narratives by such persons of note as Sojourner Truth and Nat Turner. Each document is accompanied by essays providing background information and critical analysis of the source, including its significance to history, themes, and an author biography. The support essays allow the reader to quickly contextualize the documents and gain an appreciation for why the editor may have selected the resource. In the end, this collection of primary resources offers insights into the rationalizations, horrors, legalities, and many other important aspects of American slavery. Summing Up:  Recommended. General readers through faculty."