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Race and Slavery Petitions Project
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In the summer of 1991, Loren Schweninger, a professor of history, began ...

In the summer of 1991, Loren Schweninger, a professor of history, began traveling the South visiting courthouses and state archives in search of legal petitions related to race and slavery. He expected to find dry facts buried in legal terminology. What he actually found was a wealth of new information about peoples' lives and circumstances between the American Revolution and the Civil War. The petitions portray, in vivid and personal terms, the contrasts, ambivalence, contradictions, ironies, and ambiguities that comprise southern history. He began a project that became a journey. You can follow in his footsteps.Among their many concerns perhaps none weighed more heavily on their minds than matters involving race and slavery. Only three thousand of these petitions have escaped the ravages of time, but the documents that survive provide a good representation from the Upper and Lower South, eastern and western states, and across the decades from the late eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. They also offer a wealth of material on a variety of topics: slaves who were obedient and faithful to their owners, interracial sex, free people of color, the black family, and attitudes about relations between blacks and whites.

Arts and Humanities
U.S. History
Material Type:
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Provider Set:
Walter Clinton Jackson Library