Why is the Liberator one of the most famous abolitionist newspapers in history? What topics were covered on its pages? How was it regarded by the Black community in the decades leading to the American Civil War?
These questions and more were explored in the latest Archives Alive event held earlier this month. A recording of the presentation is now available for all to watch.
The May event, entitled “And I will be heard": Voices from the American Abolitionist Movement in the Liberator, was presented by McMaster University’s Sarah Whitwell.
“The Liberator provides crucial access to the voices of Black men and women, both free and enslaved, in the antebellum period,” says Whitwell, who recently completed her PhD in history at McMaster. “Today the Liberator serves as a reminder of the importance of providing marginalized people with a forum to talk about their lived experiences.”
Whitwell’s research explores how Black men and women experienced racialized violence during the transition from slavery to freedom and in the decades immediately following emancipation. As part of this research, she draws attention to the narratives and experiences of marginalized people that are sometimes difficult to access within the historical record.
She is also an educational developer with the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation & Excellence in Teaching at McMaster.
The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections at McMaster University Library is home to many issues of the Liberator, spanning the time period of 1839-1859.
Archives Alive showcases the unique holdings of McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections. A wealth of resources exist which will delight and inform, from rare books created before 1800 to contemporary writers’ archives. Recognizing that archives can feel intimidating, these talks allow staff and researchers to share their knowledge with the community and introduce collection items housed within the library. Archives Alive is presented by McMaster University Library and McMaster Alumni.