Slave Trade in Rhode Island

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Evidence of the participation of Rhode Islanders in the slave trade during the 18th and 19th centuries can be found in the collections at the Rhode Island Historical Society listed below. Click on bold collection titles to access an inventory for that collection.

Additional materials are described in our Guide to Manuscripts in the Rhode Island Historical Society Relating to People of Color.

Many of the collections listed below have been microfilmed as part of the Papers of the American Slave Trade, Series A: Selections from the Rhode Island Historical Society. The microfilm is available at the RIHS library as well as many research libraries around the country. Ask your local librarian if a copy is available near you.

Related Manuscripts:

James Brown (1698-1739) Papers (Mss 309), 1723-1745

John Brown (1736-1803) Papers (Mss 312), 1749-1824

Moses Brown (1738-1836) Papers (Mss 313), ca. 1648-1836

Austin Collection of Moses Brown Papers (Quaker Collection (NEYM))

Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave Trade Minute Book (Quaker Collection (NEYM)), 1789-1827

Obadiah Brown (1712-1762) Papers (Mss 315), 1719-1779

Jacob Babbitt Papers (Mss 19), 1798-1838

Christopher Champlin Papers (Mss 20), 1729-1840

Nicholas Cooke Papers (Mss 365), 1764-1778

DeWolf Papers (Mss 382), 1751-1864

Harris Family Papers (Mss 17), 1640-1860 (Capt. George Scott Narrative, 1730)

Lopez Papers (Mss 541), 1756-1782

Malbone Family Collection (Mss 549), 1728-1825

Miscellaneous Manuscripts (Mss 9001-B), (Benjamin Bosworth Papers, ca. 1806)

Miscellaneous Manuscripts (Mss 9001-B),(Bristol Insurance Co. Letterbook, 1800-1801)

Miscellaneous Manuscripts (Mss 9001-G),(Isaac Gorham Papers, 1774-1795)

Miscellaneous Manuscripts (Mss 9001-P),(Providence Insurance Co. Letterbook, 1801-1806)

Miscellaneous Manuscripts (Mss 9001-W),(Whitting Family Papers, 1772-1786)

Nightingale-Jenckes Papers (Mss 588), 1742-1926

Peck Collection (Mss 9005), 1636-1939

Nicholas Peck Papers (Mss 16), 1790-1849

Rhode Island State Records Collection (Mss 231, sg 3),(Registry of Newport Vessels, 1785-1790)

Rhode Island Historical Society Miscellaneous Manuscripts (Mss 9003),(Vol. 9, Pages 37-38), 1735-ca. 1756

Rhode Island Historical Society Miscellaneous Manuscripts (Mss 9003),(Vol. 19, Pages 1-152)

Rhode Island Manuscripts (Mss 9004), (Volume 5, Pages 1-142 and Volume 6, Pages 1-89), 1756-1806 cont.

Shepley Papers (Mss 9006),(Vol. 6, Pages 87-88 and 116), ca. 1827

Shepley Papers (Mss 9006), (Vol. 9, Pages 7-8), 1799-1804

Ships Logs (Mss 828), (Sloop Dolphin (Rising Sun),  1795-1797)

Tillinghast Papers (Mss 757), 1738-1824

U.S. Government Records Collection (Mss 232, sg 3), (Rhode Island Distillery Books, 1791-1799)

Warren Insurance Co. Records and Policy Books (Mss 159), 1801-1901

Recommended Books:

Coughtry, Jay. The Notorious Triangle: Rhode Island and the African Slave Trade. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981.

Hedges, James B. The Browns of Providence Plantations: Colonial Years. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1952.

Jones, Augustine. “Moses Brown,” New England Magazine VI (1887).

________. Moses Brown: His Life and Services. Providence, Rhode Island: Rhode Island Historical Society, 1892.

Reilly, James Francis. Moses Brown and the Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Movement. Masters’ thesis, Brown University, 1951.

Thompson, Mack. Moses Brown, Reluctant Reformer. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1962.