The Black Abolitionist Papers Project began in 1976 with the mission to collect and publish the documentary record of black Americans involved in the movement to end slavery in the United States from 1830 to 1865. The project was conceived from an understanding that broad spans of Afro-American history have eluded scholarly attention because the necessary research materials are not readily available. Many personal papers, business records, newspapers, and other documentary sources simply have not survived. Materials that have endured are often inaccessible to scholars and an interested public because they have not been systematically identified and collected. Except for several small manuscript collections of better-known black figures (usually those that continued to be public figures after emancipation),1. the letters, speeches, essays, writings, and personal papers of black abolitionists have escaped professional attention. The same is true of antebellum black newspapers.
But the publications of individual historians demonstrated that black abolitionist documents could be unearthed.2. The black documents that enriched those books and articles were not located in a single collection, repository, or newspaper in any quantity. They were found scattered in the manuscript collections of others (usually whites involved in nineteenth-century reform movements) and in newspapers of the day (usually reform papers but also in the traditional press). Clearly, a significant____________________