Purchased Lives: the American Slave Trade from 1808-1865, curated by the Historic New Orleans Collection, explores the domestic slave trade with a focus on the trade in New Orleans and Louisiana as a whole. In 1808, the international slave trade was abolished, ending the export of people to the Americas. The domestic slave trade continued until the end of the Civil War in 1865. Purchased Lives considers the role New Orleans and Louisiana played in the 57 years that the domestic slave trade continued after the abolition of the international slave trade. Many of these slaves passed through the largest slave market in antebellum America—New Orleans. This exhibition includes historic artifacts, prints, quotes, and first-person accounts from slave narratives and oral histories to study this dark period in American history. There will be a number of programs to enhance the exhibition, scheduled from June through August. The museum will host lectures, book club sessions, and a teacher’s workshop between June and August, in connection with Purchased Lives.
The exhibit includes more than 75 original items, including period broadsides, paintings and prints illustrating the domestic slave trade, ship manifests and first-person accounts from slave narratives and oral histories. The display also includes a collection of “Lost Friends” ads placed after the Civil War by newly freed people attempting to locate family members. Three interactive displays will allow visitors to engage directly with the historical record, including a database tracking the shipment of more than 70,000 people to New Orleans from other U.S. ports.
The objects on view represent items from The Historic New Orleans Collection as well as artifacts from the Belmont Mansion in Nashville; Evergreen Plantation in Edgard, Louisiana; the Louisiana State Museum; the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans; the New Orleans Notarial Archives; the Touro Infirmary Archives, the Archives of the Louisiana State University at Alexandria, and private collections.
“Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865” will be on display at the Alexandria Museum of Art through August 20th, and has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. For more information, contact the Museum at (318) 443-3458 or visit www.themuseum.org.