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Slavery & Freedom in Maryland

A guide to the history of slavery in Maryland leading up to the Civil War, using materials from the University of Maryland Special Collections in Hornbake Library.

About Archives and Manuscripts

Special Collections in Hornbake Library at University of Maryland house personal papers and manuscript collections documenting all aspects of Maryland history and culture.  Numerous collections relate to slavery and plantation life in Maryland before the civil war. 

The pages listed under the Archives and Manuscripts section of this guide link to three ArchivesUM guides that describe collections related to pre-civil war and African American history. 

To find documents from archival collections, browse the various collection decriptions to identify materials that cover your area of interest.  Then, click on the finding aid link for a more detailed look at the type of materials included in the collection, the scope of the dates covered, and a general inventory of boxes and/or folders.  Archival collections can be requested in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library.     

Some notable collections include:

  • Bowie Family Papers- The collection contains genealogical information, business papers, and correspondence from one of the state's leading families as well as important information about plantation life and slavery before the American Civil War.
  • Claude-Gray-Hughes-Tuck-Whittington Family papers- This collection consists of the papers of five prominent, interrelated families associated with Annapolis, Maryland. Attitudes toward African-Americans and slavery are discussed in correspondence, diaries, and other writings included in the papers.
  • Maryland Manuscripts Collection: Slavery-Related Documents,1752-1877-  Correspondence, slave deeds, legal and financial records, broadsides, manumissions, bounties for military service of slaves, petitions for freedom, travel permits, certificates or affidavits of freedom, slave inventories, and reports relating to individual slaves and slaveholders particularly in the state of Maryland.
  • Weems-Reynolds Family papers- The Weems family is one of the oldest families in Maryland and has long been associated with Anne Arundel County and Annapolis. The family's papers consist of correspondence and a wide variety of other documents, including wills, legal papers, poetry, and handwritten manuscripts. Slaves and slavery are discussed in the correspondence and legal papers, and a handwritten manuscript details one of the family member's ideas about race and race relations in the antebellum southern United States.

For any questions or assistance with locating archival materials, contact with a reference librarian in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library, or visit the ArchivesUM homepage. 

Digital Collections

Select archival and special collection materials have been digitized and made available online through the Digital Collection @ the University of Maryland, a searchable digital repository of scanned materials from the University of Maryland's libraries. 

Use the search box on the homepage to search collection by keywords.  For example, typing "slavery Maryland" in the search box will retrieve materials realted to slavery in Maryland.