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Apart for our website — which contains a very small amount of information about the historical background — the Society does not publish anything about the history of slavery, early abolitionists and the early anti-slavery movements.

As you will appreciation, although the Society publishes material on slavery today, it does not maintain historical archives as this is outside its mandate.  Furthermore, we doubt whether the law would permit the Society — an organization for the relief of the suffering of slaves and their emancipation and rehabilitation — should be devoting its meager charitable funds in competing with the giant commercial publishers in publishing works on the history of slavery.

The historical archives of the early anti-slavery societies are preserved in Rhodes House Library, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RG, England, United Kingdom.  Rhodes House Library is part of the Bodelian Library of Oxford University.  If you wish to see the original documents, you have to visit the library and make arrangements to view them.

The historical archives of the various anti-slavery societies and of individual anti-slavery campaigners in the USA are maintained by a number of universities in the USA.  No single university holds the bulk of the materials, although the Rare Books, Manuscript and Special Collections Library of Duke University has one of the most extensive collections.

The letters to and from William Wilberforce are maintained by his descendants, and you should contact them to view the original correspondence.  Some of his letters to anti-slavery campaigners in the USA are maintained by various universities in the USA, including the Rare Books, Manuscript and Special Collections Library of Duke University.

Most of the material is now available on microfilm from commercial publishers.  The best commercial source is UMI, 300 North Zeeb Road, PO Box 1346, Ann Arbor MI, USA (telephone 48106-1346).  Its webpage is  Many other original documents reproduced on microfilm are available from Adam Matthew Publications Ltd.

If you do not need to examine the original documents, then we are pleased to advise you that virtually all the letters of William Wilberforce and the most important anti-slavery campaigners in the United Kingdom and the USA have now been published by commercial publishers, mainly in the USA and the UK.

There are, for example, numerous works on William Wilberforce, the earliest being the biography of William Wilberforce (5 vols., 1838) by his sons, Robert Isaac and Samuel, and his Correspondence (1840), also published by his sons.  A smaller edition of the Life was published by Samuel Wilberforce in 1868.  Other texts include JC Colquhoun, Wilberforce, His Friends and Times (1866); John Stoughton, William Wilberforce (1880); JJ Gurney, Familiar Sketch of Wilberforce (1838); and JS Hartford, Recollections of W Wilberforce (1864), as well as several biographies published in the 20th century.

There are a large number of published texts on other individual anti-slavery campaigners and on various aspects of the history of slavery and anti-slavery movements.  These can be ordered from commercial booksellers, such as Amazon and Barnes & Nobel in the USA and WH Smith in the UK, or from the large booksellers in your city.

If you only wish to read a general introduction, then there are articles on the abolitionist movement and on slavery in almost all of the major encyclopedias.  The most comprehensive entries are in the Encyclopędia Britannica.  Its three websites are; and  A copy of at least one or more of these encyclopedias should be available at your local public or municipal library, or in your university, college or school library.

The best general introductions to slavery are JP Rodriguez (ed), The Historical Encyclopaedia of World Slavery, Santa Barbara, ABC-Clio, 1997; and P Finkleman (ed), The Macmillan Encyclopaedia of World Slavery, London, Macmillan, 1997.

If you want to examine a particular topic, then you will have to peruse one or more of the specialist monograms, many of which are listed in the bibliographies of the two works which we have mentioned. 

Priority is always given to researchers  in Third World countries who may not have assess to the standard encyclopedias which are available in most university and college libraries in the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. 

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Last Updated June 15, 2007








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