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FT-269888-20

Kacy Kim Tillman
University of Tampa (Tampa, FL 33606-1490)
The Liberty of Loyalty during the American Revolution: Black Loyalism in the Book of Negroes

Research and writing of an article on “The Book of Negroes,” a Revolutionary War manuscript that documents Black loyalists to the British cause held at the British National Archives as part of the British Headquarters Papers, 1774–1783.

For Black loyalists during the American Revolution, loyalty meant liberty. Responding to British Proclamations that promised freedom in exchange for fealty to the Crown, three thousand Black loyalists left New York in 1783 to start new lives elsewhere at the end of the American Revolution. Their long-overlooked stories are preserved in a little-known text called “The Book of Negroes.” The few historians who have discussed this book have treated it as little more than a ledger, but I argue that it is one of the earliest and largest collections of circumatlantic Black authorship, if we just know how to interpret it. This NEH grant would support the development of a peer-reviewed article concerning Black loyalist writing as it is represented in “The Book of Negroes.” Specifically, it would fund archival research at the National Archives in Kew (UK) to access the British Headquarters Papers, 1774–1783, a collection that contains “The Book of Negroes” and its ancillary documents.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African American History; American Literature; Political History

Program:
Summer Stipends

Division:
Research Programs

Totals:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2020 – 7/31/2020