Most of the materials in this guide are primary sources--historical records created by a participant in or observer of an event either when it happened or afterwards from their memory. In this guide, you will find the personal papers and business records of enslavers, rare books as published versions of original sources, and oral history interviews of sharecroppers and former enslaved people.
By no means is this guide exhaustive of every resource. Archives, including ours, have been historically shaped by a bias towards white slaveholding men because of historical views towards what was deemed important enough to keep indefinitely. Laws reflected the views of enslavers, which prevented many enslaved people from becoming literate. These historical processes created an archival bias because enslavers created most of the surviving textual primary sources documenting enslavement and the people they took captive.