Though not as vast as Special Collections material on black life
during slavery, items at Duke concerning African-American life
during Reconstruction are also too voluminous to list here. The
material listed below touches on major themes from the period,
suggesting the shape of the collection as a whole. Black mobility,
African-American political activity, the transition to wage and
contract labor, white violence and black response are a few of the
areas represented in the collections. The Davis and Miller guide
cites many other relevant materials.
A - F | G - Z
- James Chaplin Beecher Papers, 1865-1866.
- Collection contains the journal of James Beecher, Freedmen's
Bureau agent in Charleston, South Carolina. Volume contains
summaries of complaints brought to him by various freedmen.
Material documents the transition from slave to wage labor
undergone by many black southerners.
- John Emory Bryant Papers, 1851-1955.
- Personal and political papers of John Emory Bryant.
Correspondence from his tenure as a solider in the 8th Maine
volunteers describes black religious practices and the organization
of slaves during an owner's absence. In 1865, Bryant worked as an
agent in the Freedmen's Bureau in Augusta, Georgia. His letterbook
and his wife's journal of 1865-1866 outline the work of a bureau
agent and speak to the chaos and destitution surrounding those
ex-slaves who flooded Augusta in the wake of the war. Included in
the collection are a series of letters from Henry McNeal Turner,
black Republican later noted as a bishop of the African Methodist
church and as a staunch emigrationist. Also included are the
correspondence, letterbook, and scrapbook of William Anderson
Pledger, a black Republican and educator.
- Cronly Family Papers, 1806-1944.
- Personal and financial papers of the Cronly family of
Wilmington, North Carolina. Jane M. Cronly's short stories and
memoirs are devoted in large part to her family's relationship with
their slaves, both before and after emancipation. Also included are
two small volumes dealing with the 1898 Wilmington race riot.
- Henry Daniels Papers, 1865.
- Records of Freedmen's Bureau in Brunswick County, Virginia,
including lists of former slaves who worked on a government farm
and drew federal assistance. The collection also contains contracts
between black workers and white employers.
- Samuel Fuqua papers, 1835-1866.
- An executor's records of settlements of estates, household
expenses, and labor. Includes a written agreement between a
Virginia planter and his slaves regarding their continued service
after the general emancipation. Briefly noted are former slaves --
both men and women -- who had "absented themselves" from the
plantation without permission.
A - F | G - Z
- George Gage Papers, 1864-1903.
- Letterbooks of George Gage and the journal of his wife Sarah
Marshall Ely Gage. Sarah Gage's journal contains minutes of the
Freedmen's Home Relief Association of Lambertville, New Jersey, for
which Sarah was secretary in 1864. The journal also described
Sarah's journey south to teach at a Freedmen's Bureau school in
Beaufort, South Carolina (1866-1867).
- Benjamin Sherwood Hedrick Papers, 1848-1893.
- Personal and business correspondence of Benjamin Sherwood
Hedrick, professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill, 1854-1856, and examiner in the U.S. Patent Office,
Washington D.C., 1861-1886. University officials expelled Hedrick
for his views on slavery and he was forced to leave the state in
1856. Included in the collection are the letters of Mary Ellen
Thompson, Hedrick's wife, who writes to him describing the state of
affairs in Chapel Hill following the Civil War. She notes the
self-activity of black women and men as it concerned party
politics, suffrage, and the Ku Klux Klan.
- Edward W. Kinsley Papers, 1862-1889.
- Letters of a Boston businessman during and after the Civil War.
Kinsley discusses black troops stationed in the South, particularly
the 55th Massachusetts regiment in South Carolina and Georgia, but
with mention of the 54th Massachusetts and the 35th. One item
touches on reactions to a black public safety officer in
Orangeburg, South Carolina.
- William George Matton Papers, 1859-1887.
- Papers of English-born Methodist minister William George
Matton. After the Civil War, Matton moved to North Carolina from
New York to further the ministry of the Methodist Church North.
Among other things, his detailed memoirs comment on relations
between black and white church members, speak of a visit to
Charlotte's black Calvary church, and describe the ordination of a
- William C. Russel Papers, 1861-1865.
- Papers of a Massachusetts abolitionists. In 1864 Russel moved
his family to Tennessee to manage a plantation run by former
slaves. The letters of Russel's daughter Lucy describe her
experiences teaching former slaves in her new home.
- Manchester Ward Weld Papers, 1847-[187?].
- Volume contains a compendium of lawsuits and cases aired before
agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, 1865-1868. Among the disputes are
the suits of black men to recover their wives from ex-slaveholders
who refused to set the women free.
Last updated December 2010