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Loyalist Collection, Black History Guide Ask Us

Guide Sections

Essential Information

Why Use This Guide?

This guide seeks to provide a sample of the wide variety of materials in The Loyalist Collection relating to the study of people of African descent in the British Atlantic World, with an overview of what the materials contain and how to search them. Though the study of loyalists is the primary focus of the collection, the selected materials transcend beyond the American Revolution to provide a range of material for the study of Black history from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century.  The geographic coverage spans the North American eastern seaboard, as well as the West Indies or Caribbean and across the Atlantic Ocean to Sierra Leone, West Africa. These sources provide varying perspectives such as:  government officials including those "on the ground" responsible for resettlement; abolitionists and others concerned for their care; military officers overseeing a  Black regiment during the American Revolution; and owners or employers advertising for runaways.  Though not the bulk of the documents, Black voices are also heard, for example, as petitioners to government for assistance and as part of commissions inquiring into their situations. 


Types of Materials: Primary and Secondary

Primary materials are sources usually created at the time of an event and involve first-hand accounts of historical incidents without secondary analysis or interpretation. Examples include correspondence or letters, loyalists' claims for compensation to the British government for lost property, township records, or list of Black loyalists, to name a few. Secondary sources offer an analysis, description, or interpretation of a primary resource; and often provide the historical context. For example, if a settler's petition or request to the government was the primary resource, the secondary resource could be an article explaining the significance and context of the petition; or if government letters written during the American Revolution were the primary resource, the secondary resource could be a book or encyclopedia article about the American Revolution. When used together, both forms of sources help us to better understand the complex elements pertaining to the story of the enslaved, endentured, displaced, and free people of African descent during this time period.


runawway ad

Detail from runaway slave advertisement, Halifax Gazette, July 5, 1791.  (UNB Libraries)


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Last modified on June 24, 2024 15:18