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Papers of the Anti-Slavery Society (original accession), 1757-1951


  • How to

The collection falls into nine main sections; each section is labelled not only with a letter, A to J, and a number, giving its position within the collection, but also with a shelfmark, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 16-24. An exhaustive index of the whole collection has not been considered necessary. In 1961 the records of the Society from 1941 to 1951 will be added to the collection, and this addition will continue at intervals of ten years.

  1. Engraving plates and blocks (MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 16 / A)
  2. Mounted photographs taken by Sir John Harris or his wife (MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 17 / B)
  3. Nineteenth Century correspondence (MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C)
  4. Twentieth Century correspondence (MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 19 / D)
  5. Letters received by the Mico Charity; Minute books of the Committee on Slavery, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society and the General Convention for Anti-Slavery; Memorials and Petitions (MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 20 / E)
  6. Receipt files, counterfoil books, paying-in books, cheque-books and balance sheets (MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 21 / F)
  7. Territorial section (MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 22 / G)
  8. Committee for the Welfare of Africans in Europe (MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 23 / H)
  9. Press-cuttings, printed papers and photographs (MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 24 / J)


  • Creation: 1757-1951

Language of Materials

  • English

Biographical / Historical

The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society attained its present form in 1909 when the long-discussed amalgamation took place between the two societies that form its name; but the collection of papers here listed contain the records of more than these two societies.

In 1823 a number of men, led by William Wilberforce and Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, began to meet regularly in London to discuss the slave trade and slavery in British possessions. Calling themselves the "Committee on Slavery" they appointed the Quaker Samuel Hoare as their Treasurer and Zachary Macaulay as editor of their journal, The Anti-Slavery Reporter. There were a number of secretaries of this committee, that later changed its name to "The Society for the Amelioration and Gradual Abolition of Slavery"; the only two of interest in relation to these papers are Thomas Pringle (13 Mar. 1827-Dec. 1834) and Robert Stokes who succeeded him. The latter remained Secretary when, in 1835, this Society became the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Letters to and from Thomas Pringle and Robert Stokes appear at the beginning of section C of the Anti-Slavery Papers, and the minute books of the Committee on Slavery are in section E (see below).

Robert Stokes was also Secretary to the Trustees of the Mico Charity who administered the funds left by Lady Mico in the seventeenth century for the education of former slaves. This legacy was not used for this purpose until after the establishment of the apprenticeship system in the West Indies on the abolition of Slavery in 1834; then schools were set up for the education of the apprentices and their children. Through Stokes the volumes of letters and reports sent by the teachers in these schools and the superintendents who organised them, from 1835 to 1842, became part of the Anti-Slavery Papers.

Some of the letters for the National Freedmen's Aid Society must have come into this collection in much the same way, since Thomas Phillips, who was Secretary to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1870 and 1871, was also Secretary of that Society at the same time, as successor to Aspinall Hampson, its first Secretary. It has, at times, been difficult to distinguish between the letters which came to Phillips as Secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society and those which came to him by reason of his other office. The National Freedmen’s Aid Society was in close communication with the American Society of the same name that had been established as a result of the Civil War. Letters to Hampson also appear in section C of these papers.

There are also in the Anti-Slavery Papers the records of the Committee for the Welfare of Africans in Europe which was formed during the first World War to care for the welfare of the native labour contingents in France and for the fighting forces. This Committee was an off-shoot of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society and therefore the records found in the Anti-Slavery Papers are presumably complete as far as 1941.

The records of the Aborigines Protection Society are not complete. Many of their records seem to have been destroyed before the amalgamation took place, certainly all but one of their minute books was destroyed at that time. However, in bulk the letters received by each of the two most important of that Society's secretaries far exceed those received by any one of the Anti-Slavery Society's secretaries.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom