Early Black History Documents


This is a collection of early documents and newspaper clippings showing the presence and status of Black Americans in Vermont from the late 1770s until the Civil War. A few of these documents are in the collections of the Vermont Historical Society but most are items that we or others have located in the process of learning more about the history of Black Americans in Vermont. This collection supplements and may overlap with the documents found in Harvey Amani Whitfield's groundbreaking book, The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1770-1810 (Vermont Historical Society, 2014). This collections also does not show the totality of the complex and multi-faceted Black experience in Vermont; that requires further research.

Collection Tree

"Judge Jacob and his Dinah" (magazine article)
This 1914 article explains the notorious case of the Selectmen of Windsor v. Stephen Jacob, Esq. The defendant had held a negro woman, Dinah, as a slave for many years but when she became infirm the town became responsible for her care. The…

Bill of sale of a "Negro Woman Slave, " Dinah
Although Vermont prohibited slavery in its constitution of 1777, slavery persisted in the state after that date. One of the most famous examples is Dinah, a slave owned by Vermont Supreme Court justice Stephen Jacob of Windsor. This is a typescript…