ARTICLES/JOURNAL: Special Joint Issue on Slavery and Anti-Slavery in the Atlantic world

The American Historical Review and Past & Present have joined forces to publish a joint, virtual special issue reviewing historiographic debates related to slavery and anti-slavery in the Atlantic World.

“The editors of The American Historical Review and Past & Present are pleased to present a free virtual issue on ‘Slavery and anti-slavery in the Atlantic world’. The issue is presented alongside a brand new introduction from Rob Schneider (AHR) and Matthew Hilton (P&P) tracing the evolution of the field through the pages of both journals.All of the articles below will be freely available to download for a short period of time.”

Rob Schneider (American Historical Review) and Matthew Hilton (Past & Present) write:

“The history of slavery — and its opponents — is, undoubtedly, one such topic. While the articles and reviews in the two journals can hardly claim to represent all the most important turning points in what now constitutes an immense literature, the persistent focus on this history provides a means by which the evolution of the field might be traced in interesting ways. The creation of this virtual essay, consisting of 25 articles selected from over several decades of historical writing on the subject, is one such attempt to set out the changing directions of a field. We do so, as well, to mark our continued commitment to serving a generalist readership of historians. And we are able to do so because of the exciting initiatives being made in digital publishing (not least of which is the Open Access agenda) and the recent co-location of the two journals at Oxford University Press.


In selecting these essays, certain key trends were immediately apparent. While Past and Present has played its part in the development of the slavery and anti-slavery historiography, it comes as no surprise, given its location, as well as its long publishing history, that the American Historical Review has occupied a more central role in these developments. Indeed, the very first issue of the AHR in October, 1895 contained in the ‘Documents’ section a letter, ‘Colonel William Byrd on Slavery and Indented Servants, 1736, 1739’; while an article in the next year’s issue (vol. 1, no. 3, April 1996) by William H. Siebert was entitled ‘Light on the Underground Railroad’.


It is more than curious, however, that the AHR did not devote much space to the subject of slavery per se, nor to anti-slavery, until recent times. In fact, the relative absence of these subjects in its pages reflected a dominant attitude of U.S. historians toward slavery, an attitude governed by historians of the so-called Dunning School, named for the Columbia University historian, William A. Dunning (1857–1922), which largely looked upon slave labour in the South as a benign and necessary institution. More generally, these historians and others managed successfully to define the Civil War as a conflict, not over slavery, but rather as a ‘War Between the States’ rooted in the issue of ‘states’ rights’….”

Several authors previously featured at #ADPhD appear in this special issue including Jane Landers, Vincent Brown, David Eltis, and Rebecca J. Scott.

Read the double issue (free for a limited time, $$ after) here: Slavery and Anti-Slavery in the Atlantic world

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