After Slavery: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Emancipation Carolinas

Exhibit Splash Image


After Slavery: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Emancipation Carolinas is an online exhibition and educator resource that provides insight into the ground-level tensions that shaped the struggle to define freedom for former slaves on a national level, and within the distinctive historical contexts of North and South Carolina. This project grew out of a research collaboration aimed at developing a range of high-quality primary source materials for exploring one of the most tumultuous and critically important periods in the history of the United States. Brian Kelly of Queen’s University Belfast directs the After Slavery project in partnership with a team of U.S.-based and international scholars. Launched in 2006 with startup funding from the (UK) Arts & Humanities Research Council, After Slavery has been hosted by the Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL) and the Program in the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) at the College of Charleston since 2010. In 2014, After Slavery was redesigned and published in the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI).  

Online Learning and Teaching
New classroom technologies offer educators an unprecedented opportunity for widening their access to exciting advances in scholarship on slave emancipation in the United States. After Slavery aims to provide a diverse constituency of users an opportunity to engage with some of the richest and most compelling primary source materials available on one of the most significant periods in American history. 

Each exhibition unit in After Slavery links to a set of document transcriptions in Educator Resources that highlight relevant primary sources left in the historical record by freedpeople, their allies, and their adversaries—including excerpts from diaries and letters, government reports, interviews and memoirs, handbills, court transcripts, census materials, and newspaper accounts. Selected from dozens of archives and hundreds of manuscript collections across the United States, these document transcriptions make it possible for educators and students to directly engage the complex history of Reconstruction and the first-hand experiences of its main protagonists through primary documents. After Slavery also features extensive bibliographies of academic works and digital projects for further investigation into the history of Reconstruction in North and South Carolina. A curriculum guide is available for connecting the After Slavery: Educator Resources to the South Carolina Social Studies Academic Standards. 

We Need Your Help
After Slavery seeks to offer educational tools for engaging the complex history of Reconstruction, but we need your help to do that successfully. Our goal is for this site to be useful to educators, students, and public audiences in a range of contexts, from individual exploration, to group study, to seminar and classroom use, and in non-academic, community settings.

For this reason, we would appreciate your feedback on how you use the site. What have you learned in exploring the site? What other topics should we explore here? How might we improve the resources and accessibility of the site? If you have any comments or questions, please use our Contact Form.

A Word of Thanks
After Slavery relies on a collaborative effort involving many scholars, archivists, graduate assistants, and institutions. We want to especially acknowledge the (UK) Arts & Humanities Research Council, whose generous start-up funding support made After Slavery possible. We are also grateful for the early support of the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at Harvard University and the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, and for the ongoing support of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, and the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI) hosted by the Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL). We are grateful to the many archives that have enabled us to use documents and images on the site, particularly the American Antiquarian Society, the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina, the Library of Congress, the Miami University Archives, the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the South Carolina Historical Society, the State Archives of North Carolina, and the U.S. National Archives and Record Administration.