Teaching Module

Children in the Slave Trade


  1. Inikori, Joseph E., and Stanley L. Engerman, eds. The Atlantic Slave Trade: Effects on Economies, Societies and Peoples in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992.
    This collection of essays from some of the premier scholars in the field is an excellent source for varied perspectives on the Atlantic Slave Trade. Essays in the volume examine how forced migration affected the people of Africa, the role of slavery in the economic development of the Atlantic World, the effects of the slave trade on the health and mortality of the slave population in the Americas, and the impact of abolition.
  2. Curtin, Philip D. Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1967.
    This book is a collection of ten rare personal accounts of West Africans who traveled the Middle Passage. Not only do they provide readers with very vivid pictures of the slave trade, but they balance out the European perspective so prevalent in the sources available.
  3. Curtin, Philip D. The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.
    The classic work on the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the most accurate source for quantitative evidence, this book looks beyond demographics to discuss points of origin, methods of enslavement and sale, changes in planter demand, and ports of disembarkation. Although this book is nearly forty years old, it is still considered the best in the field.
  4. Eltis, David. The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
    This book examines the English Atlantic slave trade in the context of European trade with Africa and the Americas from 1650 to 1800 in order to examine why the Atlantic world established such an exploitative system of slavery dependent upon African slave labor. This book is different from most, as it acknowledges African agency.
  5. King, Wilma. Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in 19th Century America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.
    In this monumental work on slave children in American slave society, King discusses slave children and youth through the lenses of family, labor, play, education, spirituality, slavery and freedom. While the book focuses on their childhood and youth, it also focuses on the traumas of slavery to present a well-rounded, and overlooked view of slave childhood in the Antebellum United States.
  6. Klein, Herbert S. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
    Klein's volume is a good companion to Curtin's Census, offering a survey of the economic, social, cultural, and political history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Furthermore, it gives an excellent survey on the current historiography of the field.
  7. Lovejoy, Paul. "The Children of Slavery---The Transatlantic Phase." Slavery & Abolition 27 (2006): 197-217.
    Quantitative evidence for the proportions and number of children entering the trans-Atlantic slave trade varies by region and time, with children not being in demand until late in the trade. Using The Bight of Benin as an example of regional and temporal shifts, Lovejoy shows that the increasing number of children entering the trade corresponds with demands from across the Atlantic and the British abolitionist movement.
  8. Schwartz, Marie Jenkins. Born in Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.
    Schwartz takes a fresh approach to slave children by discussing their everyday lives, education, labor, play, but also by focusing on the struggle between planter and parent over the socialization and control of slave children in the Antebellum South.
  9. Vasconcellos, Colleen A. "'To Fit You All for Freedom:' Jamaican Planters, Afro-Jamaican Mothers, and the Struggle to Control Afro-Jamaican Children during Apprenticeship, 1833-1840." Citizenship Studies 10 (2006): 55-75.
    In this article, Vasconcellos examines slave childhood and youth in relation to the abolitionist movement, arguing that the nature of childhood was dramatically altered as a result of abolitionist efforts. Using Jamaican apprenticeship as an example in shifts of demand and argued value of childhood and youth on Caribbean estates, Vasconcellos discusses the struggle between planter and parent for control over childhood and freedom during the final years of slavery in the British West Indies.

How to Cite This Source

Colleen A. Vasconcellos, "Children in the Slave Trade," in Children and Youth in History, Item #141, https://cyh.rrchnm.org/items/show/141 (accessed August 10, 2021).