National Archives slavery portal offers insight into how slaves lived and died 200 years ago

The National Archives website features information about slaves and slavery This was set up to serve as an informative resource for schoolchildren, budding amateur historians, people interested in genealogy who have slave connections, and complete novices interested in the history surrounding the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. It provides a fascinating insight into slavery and into the life of a slave in the British Empire and beyond. If you have slaves in your family history, this site is well worth visiting.

The Slave Trade Act was passed on 25 March 1807, 26 years before the Emancipation Act (1833) which led to the gradual abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire. The online exhibition draws together a range of historical documents and information describing Britain’s involvement in slavery and the slave trade, and finally its eventual abolition. This is linked to the extensive records held within The National Archives, including: · 


  • Slave registers containing personal details of enslaved persons · 
  • Colonial Office records describing how slavery shaped the history of Britain’s former colonies · 
  • Records of British African companies describing Britain's early relationships with Africa and the supplying of Africans to the Americas · 
  • Britain's naval and diplomatic records relating to the suppression of the slave trade. 

The aim of the site is to become the first starting point for anybody interested in learning more about the subject. It contains links to significant collections and other online resources available from The National Archives and other archives, as well as links to the popular Archive Awareness Campaign, whose theme for 2007 is Freedom and Liberty. 

The National Archives has also produced six research guides on the topic of slaves and slavery, in collaboration with key experts and interested community leaders. These introduce new researchers to the material on slavery held in The National Archives (as well as other archives) and how to locate and research it. 


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