As a college librarian, I often hear stressed-out students searching for primary sources say, "I'll take anything." Don't settle for just anything. There is a treasury of primary source material available electronically. Peruse my selection of 200-plus primary source sites by conducting a keyword search, exploring the tag cloud at left, or browsing by historical era. You can also visit my Delicious and Diigo sites to review my bookmarks. Here's hoping you find what you're looking for.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Documenting the American South: A Rich Repository of Digital Primary Sources

On Nov. 11, 1831, Nat Turner, the leader of a bloody slave revolt in Virginia, was hanged.

The insurrection that ultimately led to his execution began several months earlier with the massacre of Turner's slave-owner, Joseph Travis, along with Travis’s wife and children. Over the next two days, scores of whites were killed by Turner and his 50-or-so followers. Ultimately, the majority of the uprising’s participants were captured and executed, as were many other African Americans who were not part of the revolt. Many more African Americans were subjected to increasingly oppressive legislation that was enacted in the wake of the killings.

Turner escaped capture until October of that year and The Confessions of Nat Turner were released shortly thereafter. The confessions of Tuner have long been in question. They were produced by Thomas Gray, Turner’s court-appointed attorney who, in the face of financial trouble, stood to gain considerably from the confessions’ release.

You can read the full text of the confession at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Documenting the American South. In addition to the confession, that digital collection features a number of other primary sources dealing with the revolt, including letters from individuals commenting on the uprising and information about how the Legislature responded to it. Additionally, the collection features an historical essay titled "A Rebellion to Remember: The Legacy of Nat Turner".

The image above left is the cover page of The Confessions of Nat Turner and comes from Documenting the American South. The image at right is titled “Horrid Massacre in Virginia” and comes from the Print s and Lithographs Division of the Library of Congress.

No comments:

Post a Comment