Recommended Reading

Our recommended reading list contains many items that are available to read or download for free.  If you purchase any of the books through the links provide, our non-profit organization Reckoning, Inc. will receive a small commission, enabling us to continue this work. 

  • Legacy of Slavery in America
  • Legacy of Slavery in Kentucky
  • Legacy of Slavery in Fiction

Ager, Philipp. “The Persistence of de Facto Power: Elites and Economic Development in the US South, 1840-1960.” No 0038, Working Papers, European Historical Economics Society EHES, Read for free: .

Alexander, Michelle. NEW JIM CROW : Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: New Press, 2020.

Andrews, Ethan A. Slavery and the Domestic Slave-Trade in the United States.  Boston: Light and Stearns, 1836.  Read for free at Internet Archive.

Bailey, Ronald. "The Other Side of Slavery: Black Labor, Cotton, and Textile Industrialization in Great Britain and the United States." Agricultural History 68, no. 2 (1994): 35-50.  Read for Free:

Baldwin, JamesThe Fire Next Time. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

Ball, Edward. Slaves in the Family: The Evolution of American Racial RelationsNew York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

Bancroft , Frederic. Slave Trading in the Old South. Baltimore: J.H. Furst, 1931.

Barkow, Rachel Elise. Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2019

Bateman, David A., Katznelson, Ira, and Lapinski, John S. “Southern Nation: Congress and White Supremacy After Reconstruction.”  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.

Berlin, Ira. Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South, New York: Pantheon Books, 1975

Berry, Daina Ramey. The Price for Their Pound of Flesh : The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation. United States Random House Inc, 2018.

Berry, Wendell. The Hidden Wound. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010.

Bigham, Darrel E. On Jordan’s Banks:  Emancipation and Its Aftermath in the Ohio River Valley, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006.

Biss, Eula. Notes from No Man’s Land : American Essays. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2018.

Blassingame, John Wesley., ed. Slave Testimony: Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977

Breeden, James O.  Advice Among Masters: The Ideal in Slave Management in the Old South.  Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980

Brown, Patricia Leigh. “In a Barn, a Piece of Slavery’s Hidden Past.” The New York Times, May 6, 2003.

Burroughs, Tony. Black Roots : A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Crenshaw, Littleberry P. Memoir of Mrs. Edmonia Hawkins Crenshaw,: Wife of Rev. L.P. Crenshaw, of the Louisville Conference. Hanna & Co. 1863.

Dattel, Eugene R. Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Costs of Economic Power, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2011.

Deyle, Steven. Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American LifeOxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.  For an in-depth examination of local sales see chapter five.

Diangelo, Robin J. White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. London: Allen Lane, an Imprint of Penguin Books, 2019.

Eaton, Clement “Slave-Hiring in the Upper South: A Step Toward Freedom.” Journal of American History, Volume 46, Issue 4, March 1960, Pages 663–678,

Emdin, Christopher. For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood - and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education. Boston: Beacon Press, 2017.

Featherstonhaugh, George William. Excursion Through the Slave States: From Washington on the Potomac, to the Frontier of Mexico. United Kingdom: J. Murray, 1844. Digitized by Google Books, 2006. Read for free:

Ford, Dionne, Jill Strauss, and Lucian K Truscott. Slavery’s Descendants : Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation. New Brunswick, Camden ; Newark, New Jersey ; London Rutgers University Press, 2019.

Genovese, Eugene D. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York: Vintage Books, 1976.

Green, Keith Michael. Bound to Respect: Antebellum Narratives of Black Imprisonment, Servitude, and Bondage, 1816–1861. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 2015.

Gudmestad, Robert H. A Troublesome Commerce: The Transformation of the Interstate Slave Trade. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2003.

Gutman, Herbert George. The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925. United Kingdom: Blackwell, 1976.

Herivel, Tara, ed. and Paul Wright, ed. Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration, New York: New Press, 2007.

Ireland, Robert M. The County Court in Antebellum Kentucky  Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

Jacobs, Harriet Ann. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. United States: Pub. for the Author, 1861.  Digitized by Google Books, 2007. Read for free:

Jaspin, Eliot. Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America.  United Kingdom: Basic Books, 2008.

Johnson, Walter, ed. The Chattel Principle: Internal Slave Trades in the Americas. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2004.

Johnson, Walter. Soul by Soul, Boston: Harvard University Press, 2009.

Jones, Jacqueline., Jones, James. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present. New York: Basic Books, 1985.

Jones-Rogers, Stephanie E. They Were Her Property : White Women as Slave Owners in the American South. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019.

Kendi, Ibram X. How to Be an Antiracist. New York One World, 2019.

Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped from the Beginning : The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. London: The Bodley Head, 2017.

Kennedy, V. Lynn. Born Southern: Childbirth, Motherhood, and Social Networks in the Old South.  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

King, Junie Estelle Stewart. Abstract of Early Kentucky Wills and Inventories, Copied from Original and Recorded Wills and Inventories. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1961

Kornweibel, Theodore.  Railroads in the African American Experience: A Photographic Journey.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

Leary, Joy Degruy. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome : America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing ; a Study Guide. Milwaukie, Oregon: Uptone Press, 2009.

Lewis, Ronald L. Black Coal Miners in America: Race, Class and Community Conflict, 1780-1980. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1987.

Mancini, Matthew J. One Dies, Get Another: Convict Leasing in the American South, 1866-1928. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.

Martin, Bonnie. 2010. “Slavery’s Invisible Engine: Mortgaging Human Property.” The Journal of Southern History 76, no. 4 (2010): 817-66. Read for Free:

McDougle, Ivan E. Slavery in Kentucky, 1792-1865. United States: Association for the study of negro life and history, mc., 1917.  Digitized by Google Books, 2006. Read for free:

Menakem, Resmaa. My Grandmother’s Hands : Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. Las Vegas, Nv Central Recovery Press, 2017.

Murphy, Sharon Ann. Investing in Life: Insurance in Antebellum America.  Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2010.

Neal, Anthony W. Unburdened by Conscience: A Black People's Collective Account of America's Ante-Bellum South and the Aftermath. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009

Page, Thomas Nelson. The Negro: The Southerner's Problem.  New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1904. Digitized by Google Books, 2009. Read for free:'s%20Problem.%201904&pg=PR3&printsec=frontcover

Patterson, William L. We Charge Genocide, The Historic Petition to the United Nations for Relief from a Crime of the United States Government Against the Negro People, New York: Civil Rights Congress, 1952.  Read for free at Google Books.

Percy, William Alexander. Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son.  Baton Rouge: LSU Press, Oct 1, 2006.  Read for free:

Peters, Pamela R. The Underground Railroad in Floyd County, Indiana.  United Kingdom: McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers, 2001.

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen : An American Lyric. London] Penguin Books, 2015.

Roberts, Blain and Ethan J. Kytle. Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy. New York: The New Press, 2018.

Runyon, Randolph Paul. Delia Webster and the Underground Railroad.  Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

Russell, Thomas D. “South Carolina’s Largest Slave Auctioneering Firm.” Chicago-Kent Law Review, no. 68 (1993).  Read for free at SSRN:

Russell, Thomas David, Articles Sell Best Singly: The Disruption of Slave Families at Court Sales (1996). Utah Law Review, Vol. 1996, p. 1161-1209, 1996. Available at SSRN:

Saad, Layla F. Me and White Supremacy : Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor (Napreville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, 2020).

Scarborough, William Kauffman. Masters of the Big House: Elite Slaveholders of the Mid-Nineteenth-Century South.  Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2003, 2006Read for Free at Project MUSE

Schermerhorn, Calvin. and Jack Lawrence Schermerhorn. The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815–1860.  New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2015.

Schipper, Martin P., Charles B. Dew, and Randolph Boehm. Slavery in Antebellum Southern Industries. Bethesda, Md.: University Publications of America, 1991. Guide to microfilm editions at FamilySearch: FHL 975 H6s

Schwartz, Marie Jenkins. Birthing a Slave: Motherhood and Medicine in the Antebellum South.  Boston: Harvard University Press, 2006.

Sommerville, Diane Miller. Rape & Race in the Nineteenth-Century South. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.                  

Stampp, Kenneth. Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1956.

Stephenson, Wendell H. Isaac Franklin, Slave Trader and Planter of the Old South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1938

Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. S.L.: Scribe Publications, 2019.

Streets, David H. Slave Genealogy: A Research Guide with Case Studies.  Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1986.

Strickland, Jeff. The American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission, 19th-Century Racial Pseudoscience, and the False Assessment of Black America, 1863–1864. Read for free:

Sublette, Ned and Constance Sublette. The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding, Chicago Review Press, Incorporated, 2017.

Sublette, Ned. The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo SquareChicago: Chicago Review Press, 2008

Sutch, Richard C. The breeding of slaves for sale and the westward expansion of slavery, 1850-1860. No. 10. Institute of Business and Economic Research, University of California, 1972.  Library E-Book:

Tadman, Michael. Speculators and Slaves: Masters, Traders, and Slaves in the Old South Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989

Tatum, Beverly. “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” : And Other Conversations about Race. New York: Basic Books, 2017.

Taylor, Yuval., ed. I Was Born a Slave: An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives Vol. II, 1849-1866. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1999.

Villanueva, Edgar. Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore BalanceOakland: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018.

Wayne, Michael. The Reshaping of Plantation Society: The Natchez District 1860-1880  Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

White, Richard.  The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 Oxford History of the United States. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns : The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. New York: Random House, 2016.

Williams, Heather Andrea. Help Me to Find My People : The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery. Chapel Hill, Nc: University of North Carolina Press, 2016.

Williams, Heather Andrea. Help Me to Find My People : The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery. Chapel Hill, Nc: University of North Carolina Press, 2016.

Williams, Joel. The Crucible of Race: Black-White Relations in the American South since Emancipation. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Williams, Heather Andrea. Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

Wilson, Charles Reagan. Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920. Athens:  University of Georgia Press, 1980.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Penguin Group, Cop, 2014.

Woolfolk, George Ruble. "Taxes and Slavery in the Ante Bellum South." The Journal of Southern History 26, no. 2 (1960): 180-200. Accessed May 12, 2020. doi:10.2307/2955182.

Yetman, Norman R. “The Background of the Slave Narrative Collection.” American Quarterly 19, no. 3 (1967): 534–53.

Zaborney, John J. Slaves for Hire: Renting Enslaved Laborers in Antebellum Virginia. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 2012.

Anderson, Robert. From Slavery to Affluence: Memoirs of Robert Anderson, Ex-Slave. Hemingford, Neb: The Hemingford ledger, 1927.

Andrews, Susan C., and James P. Fenton. "Archaeology and the Invisible Man: The Role of Slavery in the Production of Wealth and Social Class in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, 1820 to 1870." World Archaeology 33, no. 1 (2001): 115-36. Accessed May 12, 2020.

Barton, Keith C. "'Good Cooks and Washers': Slave Hiring, Domestic Labor, and the Market in Bourbon County, Kentucky." The Journal of American History 84, no. 2 (1997): 436-60. doi:10.2307/2952566.

Browning, Orville H. “The Diary of Orville Hickman Browning.” Archive.Org. 1927. Reprint, Chicago: Blakely Printing Company, 2020.

Bruner, Peter. A Slave's Adventures Toward Freedom: Not Fiction, but the True Story of a Struggle. Oxford, Ohio: 1918.

Bullitt, Thomas Walker. My Life at Oxmoor; Life on a Farm in Kentucky Before the War. Louisville: Filson, 1911.

Bush, Bryan S. Louisville and the Civil War: A History and Guide. Charleston: SC: The History Press, 2008.

Carlton, A.B. The Law of Homicide, Together With the Trial for Murder of Judge Wilkinson, Dr. Wilkinson and Mr. Murdaugh: Including the Indictments, Evidence and Speeches of Hon. S. S. Prentiss, Hon. Benjamin Hardin, E. J. Bullock, Esq. Judge Rowan, Col. Robertson, and John B. Thompson, Esq. Of Counsel in Full. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1923

Clark, Thomas DKentucky: Land of Contrasts. New York: Harper and Row, 1968.

Coleman, J Winston. Slavery Times in Kentucky. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1940.

Coleman, J. Winston. “Lexington’s Slave Dealers and Their Southern Trade.” The Filson Club History Quarterly 12, no. 1 (1938).

Courier-Journal Job Printing Company. “A Confederate War Record.” The Lost Cause 4 (1898): 41.

Duke, Basil W. History of the Bank of Kentucky, 1792-1895,: Including an interesting account of early banking, comp. from official records and other sources at the request of the directors. New York: J.P. Morton & Co.,1895.

Fedric, Francis. Slave Life in Virginia and Kentucky; by Francis Fedric, an Escaped Slave. London: Wertheim, Macintosh, and Hunt, 1863..  Electronic Edition part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South at

Fitzpatrick, Benjamin. (2010). Negroes for Sale: The Slave Trade in Antebellum Kentucky.

Gibson, William H., Sr.  Historical Sketches of the Progress of the Colored Race in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville: Bradley & Gilbert Company, 1897.

Green, Elisha W.  Life of the Rev. Elisha W. Green, Written by Himself. Maysville, Kentucky: The Republican Printing Office, 1888.  Electronic Edition part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South at

Hambleton Tapp, "The Slavery Controversy between Robert Wickliffe and Robert J. Breckinridge Prior to the Civil War." Filson Quarterly, XVIX, 156-69. Louisville: Filson Club (1945)

Harlow, Luke E. Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830–1880. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Harriet Beecher Stowe. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. London: Cassell, 1852.

Harrison, Lowell H. "Lincoln, Slavery, and Kentucky." The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 106, no. 3/4 (2008): 571-604. Accessed May 13, 2020.

Harrison, Lowell H. The Civil War in Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1988.

Howard, Victor BBlack Liberation in Kentucky: Emancipation and Freedom, 1862-1884. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1983.

James, Thomas. “The Autobiography of Rev. Thomas James.” Rochester History, XXXVII 1975: 1-32.

Johnson, Isaac. Slavery Days in Old Kentucky: A True Story of a Father Who Sold His Wife and Four Children, By One of the Children. OgdensburgN.Y.: Republican & Journal Print, 1901.  Electronic Edition part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South at]

Louisville Daily Union Press., January 20, 1865.  [volume 1] : Louisville, Kentucky, 1864-1865.  Kentucky Digital Newspapers Program,

Lucas, Marion B.  A History of Blacks in Kentucky: From Slavery to Segregation, 1760-1891. Second ed. Frankfort: Kentucky Historical Society, 2003.

Marrs, Elijah P.  Life and History of the Rev. Elijah P. Marrs, First Pastor of Beargrass Baptist Church, and Author. Louisville, Kentucky: THE BRADLEY & GILBERT COMPANY, 1885. Electronic Edition part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South. Read for free at

McDougle, I. E. (Ivan Eugene). (1918). Slavery in Kentucky, 1792-1865. Lancaster, Pa.: Press of the New era printing company.

McDowell, Robert E.  City of Conflict: Louisville in the Civil War, 1861-1865. Louisville Kentucky: Civil War Roundtable, 1962.

Messmer, Charles. “City in Conflict:  A History of Louisville, Kentucky, 1860-1865.”  Master’s thesis, University of Louisville, 1953.

Ramage, James A. and Watkins, Andrea S. Kentucky Rising: Democracy, Slavery, and Culture from the Early Republic to the Civil War.  Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1986.

Ramage, James A. Rebel Raider: The Life of General John Hunt Morgan.  Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2011.

“Slavery in Louisville.” The Louisville Times, Sept 23, 1978

Smith, Harry. Fifty Years of Slavery in the United States of America. Grand Rapids, Michigan: West Michigan Print. Co., 1891.

Tallant, Harold D. Evil Necessity: Slavery and Political Culture in Antebellum Kentucky. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2003.

Townsend, William H. Lincoln and the Bluegrass: Slavery and Civil War in Kentucky.  Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1955.

Weeden, Henry C.  Weeden’s History of the Colored People of Louisville. Louisville: H. C. Weeden, 1897.  Read for free at New York Public Library Digital Collections: Universal Unique Identifier UUID: 191039e0-c60b-012f-e440-58d385a7bc34

Wilson, George D.  A Century of Negro Education in Louisville, Kentucky.  Louisville: Louisville Municipal College, 1941.  Library Locations provided by Notable Kentucky African American Database

Wright, George C.  A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890-1980 (Kentucky Historical Society)

Wright, George C. Life Behind a Veil. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.

Wright, George C. Racial Violence in Kentucky 1865-1940 : Lynchings, Mob Rule, and “Legal Lynchings.” Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1996.‌

Yater, George H. Two Hundred Years at the Falls of the Ohio:  A History of Louisville and Jefferson County.  Louisville, Kentucky: The Filson Club, 1987.

Butler, Octavia. Kindred. Boston: Beacon Press, 2003.

Coates, TaNehisi. The Water Dancer : A Novel. New York: One World, 2019.

‌Gyasi, Yaa. Homegoing. New York: Penguin Random House, 2016.

Morrison, Toni, and Carl Plasa. Toni Morrison, Beloved. St Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 2000.

Picoult, Jodi. Small Great Things: A Novel. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2018.

Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. London: Walker Books And Subsidiaries, 2018.

Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad: A Novel. New York: Anchor Books, A Division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018.