Between 1820 and 1860, over three thousand black Virginians migrated to Liberia through efforts from the American Colonization Society. Despite a wealth of archival material documenting the experiences of Virginia’s migrants, historians have paid little attention to what their lives can teach us about race, identity and democracy in the early Atlantic world.
In a collaborative project with colleagues at Norfolk State University, independent scholars and the technical staff at University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), we are working to collect, index and interpret the lives of Virginia’s emigrants to Liberia.
One of the sections of this project is a student research project transcribing and annotating a selection of letters from Liberia to the American Colonization Society focusing on the experiences of a group of enslaved people from Herndon, labeled the “Herndon Slaves” collection. Here are some of the letters.