RESOURCE: The New Orleans Slave Sample, 1804-1862 (and Instructional Materials)

“Slaves Awaiting Sale: A Scene in New Orleans,” The Illustrated London News (Jan-June, 1861), vol. 38, p. 307 [NW0028] as shown on, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. (Click image for details)

Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman. New Orleans Slaves Sale Sample, 1804-1862, compiled by Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman, University of Rochester, 2008.

James W. Oberly, New Orleans Slave Sample, 1804-1862 [Instructional Materials], Ann Arbor, MI, 2002.


“This study includes data on slave sales that occurred on the New Orleans slave market between 1804-1862. For each sale, information was recorded on the date of the sale, the number of slaves on the invoice, the geographical origin of the buyer and seller, the sale price, and characteristics of the slaves sold (age, sex, family relationship, and occupation). The information presented for each transaction was obtained from the notarized bills of sale in the New Orleans Notarial Archival Office. These bills often contained information on several persons who were sold in a group or as a “lot.” Whenever feasible, sale and personal characteristics of individuals appearing in such groups were entered on separate records. This was usually done when separate sale prices were recorded for each member of the group. When separate prices were not recorded for children sold in a group, information describing those children was attached to the record of a principal slave with whom they were associated on the original bill of sale.”

In 2002, James W. Oberly published “instructional materials” to use in conjunction with the data set.

“These instructional materials were prepared for use with NEW ORLEANS SLAVE SALE SAMPLE, 1804-1862 (ICPSR 7423), compiled by Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman. The data file (an SPSS portable file) and accompanying documentation are provided to assist educators in instructing students about the economics of slavery and the lives of the people recorded in the slave market. An instructor’s handout is also included. This handout contains the following sections, among others: (1) general goals for student analysis of quantitative datasets, (2) specific goals in studying this dataset, (3) suggested appropriate courses for use of the dataset, (4) tips for using the dataset, and (5) related secondary source readings….”

More information on the data set is available here.  The instructional materials are available here.   Members of Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research institutions can download the SPSS datasets and use them immediately (for more information click here).

X-Posted at Diaspora Hypertext, the Blog

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