Municipal Slavery

Learning from the Historical Record

The term "hidden collections" is used in the archival profession to refer to archival collections that have not been adequately described to facilitate researcher discovery and access. Sometimes collections are described with one purpose or use in mind and as a result certain histories and stories can also become "hidden." The City's Municipal Archives has long felt that records telling the story of the City's use of the system of slavery to support municipal work had become "hidden" despite these records, primarily those of the City Treasurer, having been inventoried and open for research to the public for many decades.

During the spring of 2014, graduate intern Lacy Brooks, of Armstrong Atlantic State University's Public History program, undertook an exhaustive review of records identified as most likely to help reveal this "hidden history." Her discoveries help us better understand the City's use of enslaved labor during the 1820s-1860s, and more importantly help us to start identifying some of these individuals.

Start your discovery of the history of Savannah's Municipal Slavery by visiting our special online subject presentation now.


"Slaves," Year 1830, 5600CT-400 City of Savannah-City Treasurer Records, Annual Settlement Book, 1819-1853

Read the final project report "Municipal Slavery: The City of Savannah's Ownership of Enslaved People." (PDF)