Manuscripts

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This Collection, originally called at Yale the Mason-Franklin Collection, is the most extensive collection of materials by, about, and around Franklin and his times to be found in a single collection anywhere in the world. The main body of the Collection is housed in three adjoining rooms on the second floor of Sterling Memorial Library, where it is available for research and study. The published papers and their digital compliment contain numerous references to slavery and abolition.

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The records consist of family papers, plantation journals, crop books, overseers’ journals, account books, medical records, and slave lists relating to antebellum southern plantations from the American Revolution through the Civil War. Over 600 microfilm reels from numerous regional archives.

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Robert Bostock was a Liverpool trader who continued to be involved in the slave trade after its abolition by Parliament in 1807. His factory on Bunce Island was raided by H.M.S. Thais in 1813 and 233 slaves were seized. Also captured were Bostock, his partner Charles Mason, and the captain of an American slave-ship, the “Kitty,” which was to have smuggled the contraband slaves to Charleston, South Carolina.

Holograph journal of a voyage to Martinique of the three-masted ship Le Diligent. Probably not an official log, the journal was written by First Lieutenant Robert Durand and describes in detail a voyage from Vannes, France, to the coast of Guinea, each slave trade port encountered on the coast, purchase of 256 slaves at Jacquin, voyage to Martinique, selling of the slaves at St. Pierre, and return to Vannes. Also described are conditions of trade in the African and Caribbean ports, dealings between slave traders and kings and chiefs, prices of provisions, competition among slave traders, effects of climate and disease, and expenses and revenues of the voyage.

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The papers include correspondence, journals, memorabilia, and photographs that document the life of Samuel Willard Saxton and the career of his brother General Rufus Saxton during the Civil War. Samuel Saxton’s journal highlights his ardent abolitionist and reformist interests, his work on behalf of freedmen’s education, and his strong Republican loyalties. The letterbooks reflect Saxton’s position as an aide-de-camp for his brother and Rufus Saxton’s administration of the Department of the South and the former slaves under his jurisdiction.

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