Fugitives in US Law and Literature

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Primary source databases

  • American Periodicals (1740-1940)
    Digitized reproductions of more than 1,100 18th and 19th century newspapers and periodicals.
  • America's Historical Newspapers (1690-1980)
    Searchable archive of American newspapers including Early American Newspapers (1690-1922) and Hispanic American Newspapers (1808-1980).
  • Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)
    Combined search of the historic Boston Globe, Chicago Defender, Chinese Newspapers Collection, Hartford Courant, Los Angeles Times, New York Amsterdam News, New York Times, South China Morning Post, Times of India, and Washington Post.
  • African American Newspapers (Readex) (1827-1998)
    Provides access to approximately 270 U.S. newspapers from more than 35 states and chronicles a century and a half of the African American experience.
  • American Slavery Collection (1820-1922)
    This digital edition of the American Antiquarian Society's holdings of slavery and abolition materials delivers more than 3,500 works published over the course of more than 100 years.
  • Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice (1490-2007)
    Thousands of pamphlets, books, paintings, maps and images documenting the varieties and legacy of slavery, the social justice perspective, and the continued existence of slavery today.
  • North American Indian Thought and Culture
    Provides access to autobiographies, biographies, Indian publications, oral histories, personal writings, photographs, drawings, and audio files that were previously unpublished. It includes fifty-four volumes from the 18th and 19th centuries with many prominent writers and nations covered in depth, in addition to photographs from Edward Curtis.

Digitized archival, text, & image collections

  • Amherst College Digital Collections
    Digitized art works, photographs, manuscripts, books, and other media from Amherst College Archives & Special Collections and the library’s Art & Architecture Collection.
  • Nickels & Dimes (NIU Dime Novel Collection)
    Full-text digitized materials from two major dime novel collections in Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University, the Albert Johannsen and Edward T. LeBlanc Collections; also hosts the Johannsen Project, a collaboration between NIU and Villanova University.
  • Hathi Trust Digital Library
    A preservation repository of full text books & journals which allows the searching and downloading of public-domain books and Specialized services for text mining projects. Only public domain volumes are fully viewable online and allow partial downloading. Click "log In" and choose Amherst College from the list of institutions to get access to additional features and tools.
  • Internet Archive texts
    More than 15 million freely available digitized texts.

For even more options and examples, check out the Primary Source Research Guide . You can also try an open-web search for a name or keyword (try putting it in quotes) and the word 'archives'; in this example, that leads to the finding aid at the University of Chicago, which has links to digitized material throughout. Once you know where someone's papers or related collections are held, you can look for a link to digitized collections on that website and do your search there.


A&SC visit

example search in A&SC for fugitive OR slave*

Anderson, Alexander. The praying African : an authentic narrative. [New York?] : Printed for the American Tract Society, [1830?].

Smith, Venture. A narrative of the life and adventures of Venture : a native of Africa: but resident above sixty years in the United States of America. New-London [Conn.] : A Descendant of Venture, 1835.

Williams, James, and John Greenleaf Whittier. Narrative of James Williams : an American slave, who was for several years a driver on a cotton plantation in Alabama. New York : American Anti-Slavery Society ; Boston : I. Knapp, 1838.

Brown, William Wells. Narrative of William W. Brown, a fugitive slave. Boston : The Anti-slavery office, 1847.

Gilbert, Olive. Narrative of Sojourner Truth : a northern slave, emancipated from bodily servitude by the state of New York, in 1828 : with a portrait. Boston : Printed for the author, 1850.

Wheatley, Phillis. Memoir and poems of Phillis Wheatley : a native African and a slave. Boston : Published by Geo. W. Light, 1834.

Equiano, Olaudah. The life and adventures of Olaudah Equiano, or, Gustavus Vassa, the African : from an account written by himself to which are added some remarks on the slave trade, etc. New York : Published by Samuel Wood & Sons, No. 261 Pearl-street, 1829 ([New York] : R & G.S. Wood, printers), 1829.

The story of Captain Riley and his adventures in Africa : with engravings. New-York : J.P. Peaslee, 1835.

The black law illustrated. [Washington, D.C.?] : [publisher not identified], [1850?].

Adams, John Quincy. Argument of John Quincy Adams, before the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of the United States, appellants, vs. Cinque, and others, Africans, captured in the Schooner Amistad, by Lieut. Gedney : delivered on the 24th of February and 1st of March, 1841 ; with a review of the case of the Antelope, reported in the 10th, 11th and 12th volumes of Wheaton's reports. New York : S.W. Benedict, 1841.

Spencer, Ichabod S. Fugitive slave law. : The religious duty of obedience to law: a sermon preached in the Second Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, Nov. 24, 1850. New York : M. W. Dodd, 1850.

Spear, Samuel T. The law-abiding conscience, and the higher law conscience ; with remarks on the fugitive slave question. A sermon, preached in the South Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, Dec. 12, 1850. New-York : Lambert & Lane, Printers, 1850.

Marvin, Abijah P. Fugitive slaves : a sermon, preached in the North Congregational Church, Winchendon, on the day of the annual fast, April 11, 1850. Boston : J. P. Jewett & Co., 1850.

Mann, Horace. Horace Mann's letters on the extension of slavery into California and New Mexico : and on the duty of Congress to provide the trial by jury for alleged fugitive slaves. <Republished with notes.>. [Washington] : Buell & Blanchard, printers, [1850].

Davis, John. Proceedings of the U.S. Senate on the fugitive slave bill : the abolition of the slave-trade in the District of Columbia,--and the imprisonment of free colored seamen in the Southern ports : with the speeches of Messrs. Davis, Winthrop and others. [Boston] : Press of T.R. Marvin, [1850].

Arvine, Kazlitt. Our duty to the fugitive slave : a discourse delivered on Sunday, October 6, in West Boylston, Ms., and in Worcester, Dec. 15. Boston : J.P. Jewett & Co., 1850.

Sumner, Charles. Freedom national; slavery sectional. : Speech of Hon. Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts, on his motion to repeal the Fugitive Slave Bill, in the Senate of the United States, August 26, 1852. Washington : Buell & Blanchard, 1852.

Phillips, Wendell, William Lloyd Garrison, and Charles C. Burleigh. No slave-hunting in the old Bay state : an appeal to the people and legislature of Massachusetts. New York : American Anti-Slavery Society, 1860.

Elliott, E. N., et al. Cotton is king, and pro-slavery arguments : comprising the writings of Hammond, Harper, Christy, Stringfellow, Hodge, Bledsoe, and Cartwright, on this important. Augusta, Ga. : Pritchard, Abbott & Loomis, 1860.

Paz, Ireneo, and Frances P. Belle. Life and adventures of the celebrated bandit Joaquin Murrieta : his exploits in the state of California. Chicago : Regan Pub. Corp., 1925.

Ridge, John Rollin. The life and adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the celebrated California bandit. Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, [1955].

Neruda, Pablo. Splendor and death of Joaquin Murieta. Trans. by Ben Belitt. New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [1972].

Pomplun, Tom, et al. Native American classics. Mount Horeb, Wisconsin : Eureka Productions, 2013.

Ridge, John Rollin. Poems. San Francisco : Henry Payot & Co., Publishers, 1868.

Ridge, John Rollin. A trumpet of our own : Yellow Bird's essays on the North American Indian ; selections from the writings of the noted Cherokee author, John Rollin Ridge. San Francisco : The Book Club of California, 1981.

Grinnell, George Bird, and F. A. Rinehart. The Indians of to-day. Chicago : Herbert S. Stone and Company, MDCCC [1900].

Geronimo, S. M. Barrett. Geronimo's story of his life. New York : Duffield & Company, 1906.

Geronimo, S. M. Barrett. Geronimo's story of his life. New York : Duffield & Company, 1907.

Betzinez, Jason. I fought with Geronimo. Harrisburg, Pa. : Stackpole Co., [1959].

Fallis, Laurence S., and Pablo Eisenberg. Geronimo : if I must die in bondage. Marvin, S.D. : Blue Cloud Abbey, [1973?].

Wright, Richard, and Paul Green. Native son : the biography of a young American : a play in eleven scenes to be performed without intermission. New York : S. French, [1980].

Spiegelman, Art. Breakdowns : from maus to now : an anthology of strips. New York : Nostalgia Press, 1977.

March, Joseph Moncure, and Art Spiegelman. The wild party : the lost classic. New York : Pantheon Books, 1994.

Ward, Lynd. Gods' man : a novel in woodcuts. New York : Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith, [1929].