A Developing List of Educational Resources on the Middle Passage and New England Slavery

This is a living document. If you have a source to add, please contact us using the form at the bottom of the page.

Print Resources

Local Libraries and Archives (Greater Boston Area)

Books on New England Slavery and African/African-American Communities

General Books on the Middle Passage, Slavery, and Abolition

Documentary Films

Online Resources

Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project, Inc.

Slavery in Massachusetts:

Slavery in New England

Museum Exhibits

Digital History Projects:

Resources on the Amistad

In 1839, while en route between Cuban ports to sell enslave Africans, the Spanish vessel, La Amistad (“Friendship”), the captives revolted and overtook the ship. Seeking water and supplies, they dropped anchor near Long Island and were captured by the USS Washington. Although seized  near New York, the Washington’s commander, Lieutenant Thomas R. Gedney, put in his claim of ownership under salvage laws for the Amistad’s holdings (including its human cargo), in Connecticut. New York’s plan of gradual emancipation (freeing all slaves born before July 4, 1799, while indenturing all children born afterwards as unpaid laborers until 25, if female, and 28, if male) they recognized 1827 as their year of final emancipation. In Connecticut, however, slavery was still legal.

The resulting case, United States v. The Amistad (1841), resulted in the freeing of the Africans on the ship, on the basis that their kidnapping and enslavement was illegal under the laws and treaties against the international slave trade, put in place by Great Britian, Spain, and the U.S. For more on the mixed record of U.S. and U.K. enforcement of those, see a guest post on this site by Northeastern University Public History graduate students, Cameron Boutin and Jordan Barnes.

For those in New England, there are multiple sites related to the ship and the case. A replica of the Amistad is docked at New Haven’s Long Wharf, and is part of the Connecticut Freedom Trail. The National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places includes a list of sites related to the ship and the 1839 trail in its online exhibit Amistad: Seeking Freedom in Connecticut.

Other resources include:

This film is a continuation of Rediker’s research from his 2012 book.

You can hear him discuss both these works in his 2013 Debra L. Lee Lecture on Slavery and Justice at Brown University’s Center for the study of Slavery and Justice: “The African Origins of the Amistad Rebellion

This exhibit on slave insurrections focuses on three vessels, including The Amistad, and was organized by the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University. For more on the exhibit, see the CSSJ’s site.

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