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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Researching the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley


Two tabs in this guide contain bibliographies. Here, in "Further Reading," you will find citations to literature about African American history across the state and region (another tab, "Getting Started," gathers books and articles specifically on the Massachusetts sections of the Connecticut Valley).  Also, under many of the tabs to the left are short lists of "Recommended Readings" related to that specific topic area.

There is a very large historical literature on African American History in the decades covered by this project.  In the bibliography below we have gathered a selected set of references to good points of entry into the scholarship on Massachusetts and New England.  For a much more comprehensive bibliography, please see the bibliography created by, posted here.

Also note that there are a growing number of data recovery projects unfolding around the region that are gathering valuable content related to this project.  These include the Atlantic Black Box project, and the Congregational Library & Archive's initiative New England's Hidden Histories: Colonial-Era Church Records.  In Rhode Island, see the Little Compton Historic People of Color database.  These website often include supporting materials that will be of interest to anyone researching the history of Black lives in New England.


Below is a selected biography of historical scholarship on African American History in Massachusetts, New England, and the United States.  Many additional titles not included below are listed in the Recommended Readings under the tabs to the left.

Adams, Catherine, and Elizabeth H. Pleck. Love of Freedom: Black Women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England. Oxford University Press, USA, 2009.

"A Forgotten History: The Slave Trade and Slavery in New England” Watson Institute for International Studies. Brown University (2005): 1-46.

Battle-Baptiste, Whitney.  Black Feminist Archaeology. Routledge, 2011.

Berry, Daina Ramey andKali Nicole Gross. A Black Women's History of the United States. Beacon Press, 2020.

Brooke, John L. "There Is a North:' Fugitive Slaves, Political Crisis, and Cultural Transformation in the Coming of the Civil War. University of Massachusetts Press, 2019.

Dorman, Franklin A. Twenty Families of Color in Massachusetts 1742-1998. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010. 

Farrow, Anne, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank.  Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery. Ballantine Books, 2006.

Finkenbine, Roy E. “Belinda’s Petition: Reparations for Slavery in Revolutionary Massachusetts.” William and Mary Quarterly 64 (2007): 95-104.

Franklin, John Hope. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2000.

Garman, James C.  “Resistant Accommodation: Towards an Archaeology of African-American Lives in Southern New England, 1630-1800,” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 2, 2 (June 1998): 133-160.

Gordon, Ann D. et al, eds, African American Women and the Vote: 1837-1965.  UMass Press, 1997.

Halter, Marilyn. Between Race and Ethnicity: Cape Verdean American Immigrants, 1860-1965. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1993.

Hardesty, Jared. Unfreedom: Slavery and Dependence in Eighteenth-Century Boston. New York: NYU Press, 2016.

Horton, James Oliver and Lois E. Horton. Black Bostonians: Family Life and Community Struggle in the Antebellum North. Holmes & Meier, 2000.

Horton, James Oliver and Lois E. Horton. Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America. Rutgers: Rutgers University Press, 2001. 

Horton, James Oliver and Lois E. Horton. In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. 

Johnson, Ronald Angelo and Ousmane K. Power-Greene (eds). In Search of Liberty: African American Internationalism in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World. University of Georgia Press, 2021.

Jordan, Winthrop D.  “The Influence of the West Indies on the Origins of New England Slavery,” William and Mary Quarterly 18, 2 (April 1961): 243-250.

Kimball, Eric. "An Essential Link in a Vast Chain: New England and the West Indies, 1700-1775" Ph.D Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 2009.

King, Wilma. The Essence of Liberty: Free Black Women During the Slave Era. University of Missouri Press, 2006.

Lewis, Kerima M.  “Captives on the Move: Tracing the Transatlantic Movements of Africans from the Caribbean to Colonial New England,” Historical Journal of Massachusetts 44, 2 (Summer 2016): 144-175.

Manegold, C.S. Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North.  Princeton University Press, 2011.

Maskiell, Nicole Safford, “Bound By Bondage: Slavery Among Elites In Colonial Massachusetts and New York” Ph.D Dissertation, Cornell University, 2013.

Maskiell, Nicole Saffold. Bound by Bondage : Slavery and the Creation of a Northern Gentry. New Netherland Institute Studies. Cornell University Press, 2022.

Maskiell, Nicole Saffold, "“Here Lyes the Body of Cicely Negro”: Enslaved Women in Colonial Cambridge and the Making of New England History,"  New England Quarterly, (2022) 95 (2): 115–154.

Melish, Joanne Pope. Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860. Cornell University Press, 2000.

Minardi, Margot. Making Slavery History: Abolitionism and the Politics of Memory in Massachusetts. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Moore, George H. Notes on the History of Slavery in Massachusetts. Boston: D. Appleton & Co., 1866.

Moulton, Amber D. "Closing the "Floodgate of Impurity": Moral Reform, Antislavery, and Interracial Marriage in Antebellum Massachusetts." Journal of the Civil War Era 3, no. 1 (2013): 2-34. 

Moulton, Amber D. The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts. Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: Harvard University Press, 2015. 

Piersen, William D. Black Yankees: The Development of an Afro-American Subculture in Eighteenth-Century New England. University of Massachusetts, 1988. 

Power-Greene, Ousmane, Against Wind and Tide: The African American Struggle against the Colonization Movement. NYU Press, 2014.

Pryor, Elizabeth Stordeur. Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship before the Civil War. University of North Carolina Press, 2016. 

Rael, Patrick. Black Identity and Black Protest in the Antebellum North. University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Rundell, Laura. “African American Heritage Sites in Salem” National Park Service (1998).

Siebert, Wilbur H. “The Underground Railroad in Massachusetts.” American Antiquarian Society (1935): 25-100. 

"Statement of Historic Context: The Underground Railroad in Massachusetts 1783-1865” National Park Service.

Sweet, John W. Bodies Politic: Negotiating Race in the American North, 1730–1830.  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Walker, Timothy D.  Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad.  UMass Press, 2021.

Warren, Wendy. New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America. Liveright, 2017.

Weiler, Kathleen.  Maria Baldwin's Worlds: A Story of Black New England and the Fight for Racial Justice. UMass Press, 2019.

Weierman, Karen Woods.  The Case of the Slave-Child, Med: Free Soil in Antislavery Boston. UMass Press, 2019.

Whiting, Gloria McCahon. “Race, Slavery, and the Problem of Numbers in Early New England: A View from Probate Court.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 77, no. 3, 2020.

Whiting, Gloria McCahon. “Emancipation without the Courts or Constitution: The Case of Revolutionary Massachusetts,” Slavery & Abolition (November 2019): 1–21.

Whiting, Gloria McCahon. “Power, Patriarchy, and Provision: African Families Negotiate Gender and Slavery in New England,” Journal of American History 103 no. 3 (December 2016): 583–605.

Wilder, Craig Steven. Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.