Anti-Slavery Collection


The nucleus of this collection was presented to the Library in the late 1890s by the family of William Lloyd Garrison and other individuals involved in the anti-slavery movement. The collection features artifacts, books, documents, letters, and pamphlets from Boston reformer Wendell Phillips and the letters and papers of orator and abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison dating from the 1830s through the 1870s, totaling more than 16,000 items.

The collection also contains daguerreotypes of noted abolitionists; the papers of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society; and the papers of Maria Weston Chapman and Deborah Weston, Amos Augustus Phelps, Lydia Maria Child, Samuel Joseph May, and John Bishop Estlin. Other items include the full run and the account books of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator; records of the American, New England, and Massachusetts Anti-Slavery societies; scrapbooks concerning Anthony Burns and John Brown; and the files of Ziba B. Oakes, a slave broker from Charleston, South Carolina. 

The library also has extensive holdings of printed material relating to the anti-slavery movement. The libraries of William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Theodore Parker are here, all rich in relevant pamphlets and broadsides. The Hunt Collection on the West Indies is another fine resource from a different perspective, as is the E.A. Phelps British Anti-Slavery Society Papers. In addition, an 89-page unpublished typed index to The Liberty Bell is available in the Rare Books Department.

Online access: For more information about the collection, including its contents, history, and organization, please consult the BPL research guide, opens a new window.

(Rare Books & Manuscripts)