Although the predominant perception of early African Americans in the United States tends to conjure up images of a shackled existence on Southern plantations, the story of the African American presence in Hudson Valley history remains comparatively untold. Just as countless black hands worked the red clay fields of Southern farms, so too did African slaves churn the rich, fertile soils of the New York flats. It remains a hypocrisy in our condemnation of slavery in the South, that we too built our society on the backs of a subjugated people.
It is our obligation and our goal to illuminate the roots of the African American presence in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and to reveal the realities of the critical but subservient role African Americans played in colonial and antebellum society in this region. As part of the missing chapter in the book of the African American experience, the stories in this collection provide a glimpse of the collective heritage some of us seek to find, and that none of us should ever forget.
Scope of Collection
This collection includes historic documents and photographs relating to the African-American experience in the Hudson Valley. This includes historic photographs, as well as last will and testaments, bills of sale, inventories, slave law codes, journals, and ledgers, which demonstrate the realities of slavery in New York.