Henry Bibb, Voice of the Fugitive , 1851-52

The African American autobiographical slave narrative has become the most significant document for understanding the history of slavery and the literature of the black diaspora. Even though twenty-seven of the ninety-four narratives printed before Emancipation were published not in the Americas but in Britain and the Commonwealth, no corresponding search has ever been performed. Recently, UK-based scholars have found five slave narratives. I have found two of these: one in an Australian database, the other in the British Library.

“The Global Narrative” will conduct the first systematic search of British and Commonwealth archives and databases for African American autobiographical slave narratives. Combining data mining techniques from the digital humanities with traditional archival methods, it seeks to reconstruct the paths of black abolitionists across the former empire, recover their lost autobiographies, bring these narratives to publication, and open up new horizons for the study of slavery and the black diaspora.

When funded, this project will benefit from the support of the following advisory board:

William Andrews, E. Maynard Adams Distinguished Professor, English, University of North Carolina // Edward Baptist, Professor of History, Cornell University // Celeste-Marie Bernier, Personal Chair in United States and Atlantic Studies, English, University of Edinburgh // Bridget Bennett, Professor of American Literature and Culture, University of Leeds // Richard Blackett, Andrew Jackson Professor of History, Vanderbilt University // Caroline Bressey, Reader in Cultural and Historical Geography, University College London // Tony Frazier, Assistant Professor of History, North Carolina Central University // Paul Gilroy, FBA, Professor of American and English Literature, King’s College London // Annette Gordon-Reed, Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History and Professor of History, Harvard University // Guy Grannum, Head of Systems Development, The National Archives, Kew // Jeffrey Green, Independent Scholar // Walter Johnson, Winthrop Professor of History and Professor of African American Studies, Harvard University // David Lambert, Professor of History, University of Warwick // Simon Newman, Sir Denis Brogan Professor of American History, University of Glasgow // Lloyd Pratt, Drue Heinz Professor of American Literature, University of Oxford // Manisha Sinha, Draper Chair in American History, University of Connecticut // Caleb Smith, Professor of English, Yale University // Shane White, Challis Professor of History, University of Sydney