Bullock County, Georgia. Vilet Lester to Patsey Patterson,
August 29, 1857
Vilet Lester writes to her former mistress, Patsey Patterson, briefly describing her chain of owners since she left the Pattersons’. She inquires about others she has left behind, in particular her daughter, whom Lester's new owner has agreed to buy in order to reunite them.
This letter has been transcribed and digitized and may be found at the following web site: http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/lester/lester.html
The Special Collections Library has a collection of about twenty-five slave letters. A list of most of these letters may be found at the following
web site: http://library.duke.edu/specialcollections/research/guides/slaveletters.html
Runaway Slave Broadside
$100.00 Reward! Notice the descriptive language used to identify the runaway slave. “20 years of age, rather stoutly made, …and quite black.”
Slave Bill of Sale
For the slave woman Susan. Not only was Susan being bought but also “her future issue and increase.”
Picture of Slavery in the United States of America, published in 1834, contains images of slavery throughout the work with captions such as “Selling Females by the pound,” “Exchanging Citizens for Horses,” “Ladies Whipping Girls,” and “Family amalgamation among the Men-stealers.” In the introductory pages it reads this work “is inscribed to every member of the Anti-Slavery Societies and to all other philanthropists who are opposed to man-stealing…"
“Where slavery was growing, as in the lower South, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, new and more stringent laws were enacted. All over the South, however, there emerged a body of laws generally regarded as the Slave Codes, which covered every aspect of the life of the slave. There were variations from state to state, but the general point of view expressed in most of them was the same; slaves are not people but property.” (John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom, 7th edition, 1994.)