African American history

black students with fists raised
Source: RU Photograph Collection:
Student life: black student activism

The majority of the resources listed on this page concern collections that have finding aids. For additional materials concerning related subjects, please do a targeted advanced search in our library catalog (view instructions). Please check back regularly, as we continue to add collections to this site.


Slavery, free blacks, and the Civil War

For finding aids and additional information contact our reference services.

Manuscript collection

Printed materials

Printed materials, including pamphlets, can be found by doing a targeted advanced search in our library catalog and limit the library to Special Collections-University Archives (view instructions). Rare and fragile materials will not be provided when available online. (Download a 1965 list of of publications 1754-1964)

Slave ownership and manumission records

Account books  

Account books may have references to enslaved individuals doing work or errands for their owner or being hired out. Occasionaly, there may also be references when their owners obtained shoes or clothes for them or paid for medical care.

Deeds and legal documents

The Indenture Collection (17th-19th century) comprises deeds and legal documents concerning the purchase and sale of land and property. The records include sales of people held in bondage, as well as sales of property to formerly enslaved people. Access to the collection is through a card catalog in the reading room.

Family and personal papers

Family and personal papers may include wills, legal documents, correspondence, and other papers concerning the purchase, transfer, and manumission of people held in bondage.

Local government records

Piscataway township records

  • Certificates of abandonment of negro children born to slave parents, 1805-1807

Middlesex County records

  • Manumission records, 1800-1825
  • Register of black children's births, 1804-1844

Civil Rights movement

For finding aids and additional information contact our reference services.


Black student movement at Rutgers University