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How did views on slavery evolve in the decades leading up to the Civil War?  What different concerns did Quakers, soldiers, and revolutionaries express about the freedom of enslaved people?  Most importantly, what evidence can we find in the Library of Virginia’s collections about the anti-slavery movement in the early and mid-1800s?

This unique challenge arose through the LVA’s early involvement in HistoryPin, an interactive website to which we upload geotagged photographs and other archival materials.  Each image is accompanied by descriptive metadata, but users can also add their own “stories,” allowing for multiple and personal interpretations of history.  Audio and video clips can also be pinned. Click here to see the Library’s  HistoryPin collections.

PBS’s trademark documentary series, American Experience, has partnered with HistoryPin to use this digital platform to tell the story of abolitionists.  The Library of Virginia was selected to contribute to this exploration of the anti-slavery movement in America—the Abolitionist Map of America.  Dozens of museums, libraries, and archives have contributed to populating the map.  PBS will also upload several video clips from their upcoming documentary series The Abolitionists, which will air on Tuesdays, January 8-22, 2013.  A mobile app and walking tours of Boston, Charleston, Cincinnati and Philadelphia allow users to explore the Abolitionist Map in multiple ways.

The American Experience Abolitionist Map of America

Dozens of cultural institutions have contributed historical images and documents

One of the LVA’s most viewed pins, an anti-slavery broadside from 1859 in Lawrence, KS.

The abolitionist materials assembled by the LVA include broadsides, personal letters, state correspondence, illustrations, book excerpts, legal documents, and more. Most have been pinned to the location of publication, recipient’s address, or the library itself.  The LVA pins range from those in Richmond, Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  Approximately 600 pins populated the Abolitionist Map of America at last count, and it is still growing.  Explore the pinned content, add your comments, and more here.

Let the selections from our collection inspire you to watch The Abolitionists tonight on PBS!  It focuses on Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimké.  We’ll be watching and highlighting some of our “pins” on the next two Tuesdays.  Stay tuned!

-Sonya Coleman, Digital Collections Assistant

Sonya Coleman

Digital Engagement Coordinator