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Part 6: Papers of William Wilberforce, William Smith, Iveson Brookes, Francis Corbin and related records from the Rare Books, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, Duke University

The breadth and quality of the Duke materials relating to slavery and abolition is truly astonishing.  It includes:

  • The manuscript biography of John Parker, an ex-slave who worked on the Underground Railroad, who bought his freedom in 1845;
  • The manuscript autobiography of John Rankin, the Presbyterian minister and educator who devoted much of his life to the antislavery movement and helped more than 2,000 slaves to escape.  The collection features an account of a woman's escape across the Ohio river with a child, which was later used by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • Papers of Jacob Rhett Motte, a white physician in the Confederate army - including correspondence and the Exeter Plantation Book, 1846-71.
  • A substantial collection of correspondence of William Wilberforce, including exchanges with Hannah More, William Pitt, Spencer Perceval, Thomas Harrison, Thomas Clarkson, and Lord Brougham.
  • Extensive papers of William Smith, the British social reformer.
  • Papers of Francis Porteus Corbin relating to his Louisiana sugar plantation.

There are many other smaller sets of material describing slavery in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia; as well as accounts of the lives of freed men and hired hands in the South.

Digital Guide
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