The Old Plantation, painting by John Rose, ca. 1785-1795, courtesy of the Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Art Museum, Williamsburg, Virginia.

The Old Plantation, painting by John Rose, ca. 1785-1795, courtesy of the Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Art Museum. This painting depicts enslaved African Americans on a plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

African Passages, Lowcountry Adaptations (APLA) is an online exhibition series about the history of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding Lowcountry region. The goal of APLA is to generate awareness and knowledge about the systems of chattel slavery and plantation agriculture that developed in the Atlantic World and would come to define race, class, and labor experiences in the Lowcountry region from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. After Emancipation, chattel slavery left legacies of race and class inequalities that continued to be a struggle throughout the twentieth century, and that persist into the present.

The histories of Atlantic World, North American, and South Carolina Lowcountry slavery presented in this exhibition are complex and connect to various ongoing scholarly debates that are not yet resolved. In addition, many of the historic sources and visual depictions of early African, African American, and American Indian history available for scholarly research today were produced by Europeans and Euro Americans, and they often reflect bias towards Eurocentric worldviews and priorities. Despite these challenges, this exhibition seeks to provide a broad outline of historic developments, events, and issues connected to the history of slavery, but we encourage readers to explore the Sources section at the end of each exhibition for more in-depth works on the histories summarized here. Our goal is to provide insights that raise questions and encourage awareness about the history of slavery in the Americas, particularly in the South Carolina Lowcountry region, rather than produce a definitive narrative of this complex history.  

APLA features digitally archived multimedia materials from the collections of the Lowcountry Digital Library and various other online repositories, and links to numerous relevant digital projects and resources. Using Omeka's flexible exhibit builder program, we hope to continue to enhance multimedia materials and resources featured in this exhibition.

The Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL) at the College of Charleston collaboratively developed this digital exhibition project for the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative with various scholars and partners listed within each exhibition's Sources section. Project development and implementation was made possible by grants from the Humanities Council SC and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and support from the International African American Museum (IAAM) and the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture.