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Due to refurbishment works in the Sydney Jones Library, Special Collections and Archives is closed to users from Monday 3 June until Monday 16 September (inclusive). We're still available for your enquiries via email.

Special Collections & Archives: Slave Trade collectionsaccredited archive service logo

SC&A includes manuscripts and archives, medieval to modern; early and finely printed books, and science fiction collections.

Slave Trade collections

Liverpool was the most important European port in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and this history is reflected in Special Collections and Archives collections. During the trade, over 1.3 million Africans were enslaved on ships that began their journey in Liverpool. This webpage also encompasses records relating to other aspects of slavery in the Atlantic world, including the United States.

Research notes and primary research materials
Primary source materials
  • Records of eight triangular slave voyages, 1782–1807 (LUL MS 107/5)
    • This collection provides a very good insight into the operation of the trans-Atlantic slave trade out of Liverpool, with crew lists, captain’s instructions, inventories, and sales of the enslaved, among other records.
  • Nicholas Waterhouse & Co cotton ledger, 1799–1802 (LUL MS 138)
    • This large ledger for a Liverpool cotton broker is one of the best primary sources for the study of Liverpool’s early cotton trade, one of the key products of enslaved labour in the Atlantic world.
  • Rathbone Papers (RP)
    • This wide-ranging collection of a prominent Liverpool family’s papers includes material (predominantly letters) on the campaign to abolish the British slave trade and slavery and on American cotton plantations and the Confederacy.
  • W. A. & G. Maxwell Papers (LUL MS 137)
    • A large collection of log books, accounts, and printed trade circulars relating to this Liverpool firm in the 1810s-1830s which traded primarily for palm oil in West Africa.
Copies of primary source material
  • Schofield Papers microfilm collection (D514/2)
    • This large microfilm collection includes a variety of material on the British Atlantic world, with shipping represented most strongly, including copies of the Liverpool Plantation Registers and Naval Office Shipping Lists.
Research notes
  • Hair Papers (HAI)
    • The research notes of Paul Hair, a historian of Africa, provide information on his research into Atlantic slavery, including Liverpool’s role in the slave trade.
  • Peet Papers (Peet 13)
    • The Liverpool antiquary Henry Peet researched the slave trade and his papers include some drafts and some copies of original manuscripts.
  • Sanderson Papers (SAN)
    • Frank E. Sanderson was a part-time PhD student researching the campaign against abolition in Liverpool. His papers include copious notes about sources, themes, historical actors, and some drafts of parts of his thesis.
  • Schofield Papers (D514/1)
    • Maurice and Eunice Schofield’s research papers include notes on original sources and drafts for a wide range of topics in the maritime history of North West England during the eighteenth century.
Related collections
  • Brazilian naval log books, 1823–1824 (Grenfell 3)

    • Bound log books of four Brazilian vessels.

  • Naval records of William Parker (PKR/2/1)

    • Records relating to his service in the Brazilian navy during the nineteenth century.


External Collections

Please note that resources listed below include links to external resources that are not maintained or owned by Special Collections and Archives, but have been listed here as they are helpful for researchers studying the transatlantic slave trade. 

For queries regarding using and accessing these resources please contact the website owners directly; current staff and students may contact their Liaison Librarian for support in using the subscription resources.  

Digital library collections
Free resources
  • Slave Voyages – This database is a great source of raw data about the Trans-Atlantic and Intra-American slave trades, and also provides explanatory essays.
  • Legacies of British Slavery – This database provides information about beneficiaries of British plantation slavery through the government compensation in the 1830s. It links the compensation to its legacies across Britain and also provides information about the plantations themselves.
  • Sources for free digitised books – HathiTrust Digital Library, Internet Archive, Google Books, and Project Gutenberg

Slave Trade highlights

Portrait of Olaudah EquianoInteresting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1793)

The autobiographical account of a former enslaved person who bought his freedom and campaigned for the abolition of slavery. SPEC L34.2(2)

Finding and using

Related collections