Shackles consist of an iron bolt with a pair of loops slid onto it thorugh a hole in each end of the loop. One end of the bar is fixed closed by an integral metal flange large enough to prevent the loops from being removed. The other end of the bar ends in an "eye" and is locked by a large "lock washer" inserted at the time the shackles were applied.
A string of cowrie shells. There are sixty (60) tan and yellow colored cowrie shells on a string composed of multiple natural-colored strands twisted together. The shells do not create a distinct pattern and they are oriented on the string in varying positions.
A deed of sale document between William Walker and John and Joan Gunston for the sum of seven hundred pounds. The upper left corner of text is embellished with stylized writing. The bottom of the document has the signatures of John and Joan Gunston. Both signatures have attached seals with paper ribbons attached. The document begins “This Indenture made the Eight and Twentieth day of March In the first yeare of the reined of our Sovereign Lord James the second by the grace / of God of England Scottland Ffrance and Ireland King defender of the faith Anno Dni 1685 Betweene John Gunston and Joan Gunston Spinster both of Taunton Deane / in the county of Somersett Nephew and Niece Captain Thomas Gunston late of the parish of St. George in the island of Barbados (illegible) on the one part And William Walker / Cittizen and Ironmonger of London of the other part Withnesseth that they the said John Gunston and Joan Gunston as well for and in consideration of the summe of Seven / hundred pounds of lawfull money of England to them in hand payd by the said William Walker…” The middle of the document mentions the ownership and transfer of the Negro slaves. Written on the back side of the document at center is “28th March 1684 / Mr Jhn Gunston & Mrs Joan Gunston Conveyance / to Mr. William Walker.” On the back in the upper left corner is a small summary of the exchange of funds with witness signatures. In the upper right corner is a statement of understanding signed by Ursula Gunston. Witness signatures and a small wax seal stamp are also present.
This model was made by an unknown artist in the first half of the 20th century. The ship and the figures are not to scale. Nor are the figures arranged in an historically accurate way. Yet the object speaks an emotional truth. Most of the artist's work has been poured into the carving of the figures on board the ship. They are each hand-carved and represent different people in different states - some with ribs showing, others with rounded bellies, tall, short, male and female. The emotion invested in the carvings is palpable.
Scholars estimate that of every group of 100 people seized in Africa, only 64 would survive the march from the interior to the coast; only 57 would board ship; and just 48 would live to be placed in slavery in the Americas.
Source: Nancy Bercaw, Curator, Slavery and Freedom
This model of a slave ship consists of a wooden hull (a), a removable deck (b), and a wooden stand (c).
The wooden hull (a) is made of a soft wood painted black on the outside, with a cream border around the top where sixteen square holes are carved, eight on each side. The interior of the hull is painted cream. At the interior of the stern is an enclosed white structure. A functioning door is attached at the center front of the enclosed structure, with carved slats and a small metal pin as a door knob. Two stained wooden circular pieces reach up out of the hull from the lower deck and extend above the removable upper deck (b) when it is in place. The rudder of the ship is functional. The exterior front of the bow has a decorative curled element with a carved outline detail. Above this is a stained wooden circular piece that protudes from the bow as a bowsprit. The lower deck has two rectangular cut-outs trimmed in cream raised edges. The one nearest the bow is larger than the one nearest the stern. They correspond to the rectangular openings on the removable deck (b). These cutouts are open to the hold. Lined along the lower deck are carved ivory figures painted or stained black. Each figure is an individually carved piece adhered to the ship, with individualized faces, bodies, and heights. Additional figures are visible in the hold from the rectangular openings. The figures are adult males and females, and some short figures may be meant to represent children or adolescents. All of the figures are wearing cloths around their genitals, but are bare-chested.
The removable deck (b) is made of a soft wood painted black on the top and left untreated on the bottom. The top of the deck has four cut-outs that are trimmed in cream painted wood. The first and third cut-outs from the bow are circular, the second is a rectangle with a raised cream edge, and the fourth is a rectangle with a box-like cream structure that is open on the back side but with a covered roof. In addition to the four larger cutouts there are two small square cut-outs in front of and flanking the circular cutout nearest the bow that are not trimmed in white detailing. There are three small holes, one at each side and one in front of the circular cut-out nearest the stern also not trimmed in white. There are two sets of two small holes at the edges of the deck flanking the cream roofed structure nearest the stern.
The stand (c) is made from wood and formed of two quatrefoil endcaps and a center dowel. There is decorative outline carving on the endcaps. The dowel is attached at a slight angle to accomodate the slope of the hull (a). The bottom of the hull sits parrallel to the dowel, resting on red wool pads that are adhered along the top edges of the endcaps. The wood is stained with a dark finish, of a different color than the black painted hull. The stand was clearly made for this ship model, but may not be original to it considering the different finish color.
This volume contains information regarding a voyage of the ship Fox, a 146 ton brigantine that left Liverpool on March 8, 1774. The ship stopped first in the Cameroons, West Africa, where 148 African people were enslaved and brought aboard. The ship then crossed the Atlantic Ocean westward, landing first in Dominica. Seventeen (17) of the enslaved people died during the Atlantic crossing. After likely making other landings in the Caribbean to sell enslaved people the ship returned to Liverpool, completing the trip on February 22, 1775. The wages book recorded wages and debts of the crew, desertions, and several deaths of crew members by drowning. There are also records of enslaved people who worked on the ship and were paid in clothing.
Source: Nancy Bercaw, Curator, Slavery and Freedom
This bound volume contains information regarding Captain Robert Mitchell and his crew aboard the slave trading ship Fox. The covers are made from a brown paper and the text "Fox's Wages Book / Feb.y 1775 Capt Mitchell" is written on the front cover in black ink. The thirty-six (36) total interior pages have text pertaining to wages and debts of the crew, desertions of the crew, and several deaths of crew members by drowning, all written in black ink. There are also records of enslaved people who worked on the ship and were paid in clothing. Most pages have writing on the front and back sides, but there are some blank pages toward the back of the volume. The pages are bound together with bast fiber thread.
The slave ship Diligente was engaged in the illegal slave trade when it was seized in 1838. A lieutenant in the British Royal Navy painted this scene from the ship. He captured the trauma of the Middle Passage in images of malnutrition and overcrowding.
Source: Nancy Bercaw, Curator, Slavery and Freedom
A watercolor painting of a slave ship showing five crew members with multiple enslaved persons crowded on the weather deck. A Portuguese flag flies from the ship and the sketched outline of another ship is visible in the background.
This object is a poly-chrome, three-dimensional, woodcarving depicting a male slave trader and a female slave standing on an elongated oval platform. Both figures are standing upright and facing the same direction with the male figure behind the female figure. The male figure is significantly larger than the female figure. He has short hair and is wearing a dark three-piece suit, belt with belt buckle, white collared shirt and a dark neck tie. There are two, small white objects in his left and right breast coat pockets. His proper right hand has a drilled hole through the fist. His proper left hand is slightly forward and he is holding a length of cord connected to the female figure. The cord ties her hands behind her back and wraps around her neck in a noose. The female figure is bald, wearing light colored earrings and is nude with the exception of a light colored breechcloth and four strings (two dark strings, two light strings) of glass beads around the waist. A piece of light cloth has been tied around the female figure’s upper torso.
This letter was written from Charleston, South Carolina, on March 5, 1800, by David Selden to his parents in Chatham, Connecticut. Selden lists several cities he has recently traveled to including New York and Philadelphia, with future destinations including Georgetown and Georgia. After describing the weather and spring blossoms of Charleston, Selden writes, "I cannot but reflect on the awfull sight to be seen at a place called Gadsdens wharf of about four thousand poor africans naked/in a manner/ and lousy[.] The most distressing sight I ever beheld offered for sale every day at Auction to him who will give the most." The letter is posted specifically to his father Reverend David Selden of Chatham, Connecticut, but the salutation reads "Dear parents".
Seven (7) paged deed of sale document between Samuel Smith, Rene Payne, George Smith, John Smith and Robert Lord Carrington for the sum of [nineteen thousand] one hundred and seventeen pounds, eleven shillings. The indenture document is sold by Moulton and Rushton of Chancery Lane, as indicated in the upper left corner of the front of the first page. The document is bordered in red lines. The top of the document in the upper left corner is stylized script [This indenture of three parts/Sold by/Moulton and Rushton,/Chancery Lane] Following the first line of stylized text is the start of the indenture [made the Twenty Eighth day of August in the/thirty eighth year of the Reign of our/Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britain Ffrance and Ireland King Defender of the ffaith and soforth and in the year of our Lord One/thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight Between Samuel Smith and/Rene Payne of the City of London (illegible) of the first part The said Samuel Smith and Rene Payne and their (illegible)/George Smith and John Smith of the City of London (illegible) of the second part and The Right Honorable Robert Lord/Carrington of the third part]. On the left side in the upper third are two (2) blue squares of paper with embossed seals. On the reverse of the first page in the upper left corner is the payment of the indenture received to Robert Lord Carrington for the sum of [nineteen thousand] (AA, 1/29/15) one hundred and seventeen pounds and eleven shillings. The payment is witnessed and signed. At the top in the middle is a note regarding the sealing and endorsing of the document. On the left side in the middle third, is a note regarding where the indenture was filed [Enrolled in the Office of Enrollments in Jamaica/May 25th 1799 Lib: 465 fol 187/(illegible)/(illegible signature]. In the middle of the center of the reverse of the document is a summary of the document contents and the date [Dated 20th of August 1798./Samuel Smith Esq./and others...../to/The Right (illegible)/Lord Carrington../Conveyance/of two thirds of the ffarm/plantation/Enrd 25th May 1799/(illegible)/6.. 15 71/2 . 6/ 6.. 18 . 17]. Included in the indenture is a schedule of property listed on the sixth and seventh pages. On the last page are five (5) wax seals and signatures along the bottom. The signatures include Samuel Smith, Rene Payne, George Smith, John Smith and Lord Carrington.
This cowrie shell basket was created by artisans in Mossuril, Mozambique, in 2015 to hold soil from the region, which was then deposited at the site of the São José shipwreck. After a solemn ceremony on May 30, 2015, the village and tribal elder in Mossuril, Evano Nhogache, entrusted this basket to Lonnie Bunch, instructing him to place the enclosed soil as close to the wreck site as possible to symbolically reconnect those Mozambicans who were lost with their homeland. He then asked that the basket become part of the collections of the NMAAHC. On June 2, 2015, at a second memorial in Clifton, the soil was poured into the ocean near the wreck site. The slave ship São José Paquete Africa sank on December 3, 1794 off the coast of South Africa. It had left Mozambique 24 days prior bound for Maranhão, Brazil.
A basket created by artisans in Mossuril, Mozambique for ceremonial transport of soil from Mozambique to the site of the São José shipwreck in Cape Town, South Africa. The round basket is in two parts, a base and lid, and is made from worked plant material. Cowrie shells placed closely together adorn and cover the outside of both the top and bottom of basket.