Documenting Captivity: Digitizing Slave Records of the Southeastern United States, 1785-1926

Material Description

The materials to be digitized include correspondence, journals, memoirs, receipts, bills of sale, account and ledger books, court cases and depositions, and estate inventories and divisions, all of which make reference to or name individual slaves or groups of slaves owned or traded in Kentucky and surrounding states and territories. The materials come from more than 150 collections held by the Filson Historical Society. Collections held by the Filson are donated by private individuals or organizations, or are purchased using monies from an institutional acquisition fund. The provenance of each collection, as available, is included in the Deed of Gift. Due to the nature of slavery, and slave records, the type of materials that shed light on the subject are dispersed across the collections of many individuals, families, and organizations. The materials appear predominantly in family collections, primarily those of slaveholding families of Kentucky, Virginia, and other southern states. Due to the variety of item types, the materials illustrate several aspects of slaveholding and slavery, from legal documents to personal opinions about individual slaves and the institution of slavery. Prominent families of Louisville and Kentucky are represented, including the Clark, Shelby, Clay, Taylor, and Bullitt families.

Year Added:



The Filson Historical Society, Inc.


Ms. Jennifer Cole
The Filson Historical Society

Mr. Aaron Rosenblum
The Filson Historical Society

Date Range

1785 - 1926

Geographic Scope

The materials included in the project were created by families and individuals living in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana, and describe activities taking place in those states.


  • 2000 Manuscripts