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.
Municipal Slavery Project - Phase II
Phase II of the Municipal Slavery Project consisted of the transcription of selected cashbook entries from the City Treasurer of Savannah from 1806-1866 and the Annual Settlements book (1819-1854). The goal was to capture evidence of the use of enslaved men, women, and children by various City of Savannah departments during the antebellum period. The purpose of the project was to make existing records containing information on the topic of slavery more accessible for historians, students, and citizens, and to raise awareness of the scope of the City’s use of enslaved labor to support municipal work and functions.
Please read the Research Summary to understand the data collection and analysis methodology and how to use the project spreadsheet and reports.
- Municipal Slavery Project Phase II - Research Summary
- Transcription Spreadsheet
- Spreadsheet Report by Category
- Spreadsheet Report by Keyword
Municipal Slavery Project - Phase I
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.
- Read the final Phase I project report "Municipal Slavery: The City of Savannah's Ownership of Enslaved People." (PDF)