Captive Lives: Experiences of Slavery and Freedom in Colonial Sierra Leone


ACLS Fellowship Program


History and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies


Captive Lives is a social history of slavery in the British colony of Sierra Leone during the late nineteenth century. This monograph utilizes a rich and wide array of colonial and abolitionist sources – documents that contain the names, ages, ethnicities, origins, owners, families, and even transcribed testimonials of the enslaved. Drawing on these records, Captive Lives offers new insights on the demography of Sierra Leone’s captive population, the prevalence of slaveholding, and the movement of enslaved women, men, and children within the colony and its hinterlands. Using micro-historical analysis, this project also reconstructs the quotidian lives of the enslaved, from their family units and social networks to their labor, mistreatment, and strategies of liberation. By foregrounding the unique, significant – and often overlooked – experiences of enslaved people in colonial Sierra Leone, Captive Lives adds new perspectives to the histories of slavery and emancipation in West Africa and the wider Atlantic World.