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University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA 22903-4833)
Worthy N. Martin (Project Director: July 2019 to present)
Virginia Emigrants to Liberia Project

The enhancement of a database that details the lives of 4,000 enslaved and formerly enslaved African Americans in Virginia who took part in the colonization and establishment of Liberia in the nineteenth century and provides data pertaining to 500 facilitators of their emigration.  The database would include links to digitized correspondence and other contextual and bibliographic information.

This project will enable online access to information about 4,000 African Americans, enslaved and free, who emigrated from Virginia to Liberia between 1820 and 1866, and about 500 former enslavers and/or facilitated their migration. Our recent scholarship provides an authoritative basis for the substantial demographic information that is rare for African Americans in this period—including enslaved people’s surnames, ages, and relationships. Most significantly, over 400 letters by and about the emigrants, written before and after their emigration, will be linked to the records for emigrants and their former enslavers/facilitators, with sophisticated online access to these letters (mostly American Colonization Society records archived by Library of Congress). Virginia Emigrants to Liberia will inform scholars, researchers and students in a variety of disciplines, as well as the general public, with regard to life, liberty, race and citizenship on both sides of the Atlantic.

Project fields:
African American History; African American Studies; U.S. History

Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Preservation and Access

$126,527 (approved)
$126,527 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2020 – 5/31/2023