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A Reflection of Slave Treatment and Culture

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US History

Slavery in the United States serves as one of the darkest times for american society, yet its end was one of the most influential ones in helping shape a more equal modern society. This period showed a complete disregard for the humanity of slaves, not solely represented by the harsh treatment they endured or by the poor conditions they lived in, but by the way society had perceived them as well, all of which, this collection aims to illustrate

The following collection is a reflection of slave life, such as: the harsh treatment slaves received, the almost complete control that their owners had over them, or just how they were perceived as seemingly meaningless pieces of property. Since many slaves were illiterate, primary literary resources from slaves themselves are scarce, therefore much of the cultural history of slaves are portrayed by records slave owners and/or merchants, or material items from either slave masters or slaves themselves. The collection begins with a few historical items representing the origin of one's life as a slave, such as a diagram of a crowded slave ship or a receipt of purchase, which illustrate how slaves were seen as property rather than human. The collection then proceeds into some cheaply made material possessions a slave would have owned, then takes a rather darker turn. The collection proceeds into evidence of harsh punishment towards slaves, such as a high bounties for escaping and torture devices, before finally ending off with a picture of a slave who had been brutally beaten, and a book from an escaped slave girl herself. The two latter items are examples of pieces that helped lead America towards the emancipation proclamation, resulting in the total abolition of slavery in 1863.

Stone slave auction block from Hagerstown, Maryland

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Bill of sale for two men, Daniel and Bartley, to Edward Rouzee

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Account of taxable property, including enslaved persons, owned by Edward Rouzee

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Dress made by an unidentified enslaved woman or women

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Charleston slave badge from 1801 for Mechanic No. 108

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Burl bowl

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Broadside for a reward for fugitive slaves George, Jefferson, Esther, and Amanda

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Slave whip owned by British abolitionist Charles James Fox

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Shackles

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Gordon

National Portrait Gallery