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Slavery in New York State
Print & Electronic Books
Fordham has both secondary sources on this topic as well as primary sources in book format. If you have any questions about searching the library catalog, try the tutorial on the Finding Books page or chat live with a librarian through Ask a Librarian.
Searching the catalog by subject will allow you to browse some books on this topic. Copy and paste the Library of Congress Subject Headings below to search the catalog by subject:
- Antislavery movements--New York (State)--History
- New York (N.Y.)--History--Conspiracy of 1741
- New York (N.Y.)--History--1775-1865
- New York (State)--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775--Sources
- Slavery--New York (State)--History--17th century
Find as much background information as you can before trying to find the original text of a law. Helpful information includes:
- The year the law was passed
- The chapter number if available
- The jurisdiction (city government or state government)
- The popular name (i.e. Montgomerie's Act) or official language (i.e. "An Act for the more effectual preventing and punishing the conspiracy and insurrection...")
- The book below names many primary sources, particularly laws, that can be researched in other places:
Once background information is gathered, try searching in the resources on the Government & Historical Documents page (includes Dutch & Colonial records) as well as:
HeinOnline Law Library This link opens in a new window
Find archive of NY session laws from 1691-2020 including the New York Colony (1691-1775). Once inside HeinOnline, find the Browse Databases by Name heading and select New York Legal Research Library.
Ancestry.com New York
Follow the directions from the New York State Archives to sign up for a free Ancestry.com New York account to search New York records. Does not included all Ancestry.com content.
Open Access Digital Collections
NYC's Early African American Settlements
Research guide from NYPL with links to primary sources for New Amsterdam’s “Little Africa,” Manhattan’s Seneca Village, Brooklyn’s Weeksville community, and Staten Island’s Sandy Ground neighborhood.
New-York Historical Society Digital Collections
Search by keyword to find resources on the New-York Manumussion Society, the New-York African Free-School, and more. Select the Slavery--New York (State)--New York subject limiter on the left panel to browse collection.
New York Heritage Digital Collections
A collaborative project of the Empire State Library Network featuring digitized content from the colonial era to present from 350 libraries, museums, archives, and other cultural institutions across the state.
Black Loyalists & The American Revolutionary War
The Black Loyalist Directory : African Americans in Exile After the American Revolution by
Garland Pub. & New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1996.
Call number [RH Stacks] E277 .B57 1996
African Burial Ground in New York City
African Burial Ground Final Reports
Provides access to reports conducted by the U.S. General Services Administration and Howard University covering the historical, bioanthropological, and archaeological significance of the African Burial Ground found at 290 Broadway.
Breaking Ground Breaking Silence : The Story of New York's African Burial Ground by
Henry Holt, 1998.
Call number [RH Stacks] F128.39 .H36 1998
Historical Primary Source Databases
Finding Primary Sources
See this page for additional databases, digital collections, and physical archives in the Metro NYC area.
Narratives & Memoirs by the Enslaved
Public History Projects
Northeast Slavery Record Index
A searchable compilation of records that identify individual enslaved persons and enslavers in the states of New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Freedom on the Move
Compiles citations and transcriptions of ads appearing in newspapers searching for runaway, fugitive, or self-emancipating slaves. Search the database to see listings for New York.
Slavers of New York
A group of activists, educators, and researchers using historical data and street art to expose the legacy of slavery in NYC.
Reference & Instruction Department
Reference & Instruction Department
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