Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

William H. Scheide Collection on Slavery in North America
Rare Book Division
Permanent URL:
1688-1865 (mostly 1766-1865)
1 box and 1.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
whs: Box 1


Consists of a group of around forty documents, primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries, that were assembled by collector William H. Scheide on the topic of slavery in North America.

Collection Description & Creator Information


Consists of a group of around forty documents, primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries, that were assembled by collector William H. Scheide on the topic of slavery. Most materials were created by European colonists in regions of North America that were or later became part of the United States, but there is also one document pertaining to a plantation in Antigua. States represented include New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Documents consist of financial and legal documents pertaining to enslaved and formerly enslaved people, and to a lesser extent, to free people of color. Bills of sale, estate appraisals and inventories, tax receipts, advertisements, legal complaints, an insurance policy, a ship manifest, and other materials document the enslavement of African American and Afro-descendent people. There are also several manumissions or deeds of emancipation, as well as legal documents certifying the free status of two Black men living in New York City in the early 19th century. Of note is a document pertaining to Lilpha, a free Black woman living in Connecticut who purchased her own daughter from her former enslaver as a means of extracting her family from slavery. Also present are manuscript copies of the Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's "An Act for the gradual Abolition of Slavery" (1780) and a 1788 amendment.

Materials were acquired by collector William H. Scheide from various sources. Many original documents are accompanied by description cards created by manuscript dealers. This collection was formerly referred to within the Scheide Library as "Slavery Documents" (Scheide 68.7).

Collection Creator Biography:

William H. Scheide (1914-2014), Princeton University Class of 1936, was a Bach scholar, musician, philanthropist, and rare book collector. At the time of his death, Scheide was the owner of the Scheide Library, now housed in Firestone Library at Princeton University, which contains books and manuscripts that he, his grandfather, Willam T. Scheide, and his father, John H. Scheide (Princeton University Class of 1896) acquired.

Collection History


This collection forms part of the Scheide Library, which was bequeathed by William H. Scheide to Princeton University in 2015 .


No material was removed from the collection during 2020 processing.

Processing Information

A previous catalog record and inventory were updated and converted into a finding aid by Kelly Bolding in September 2020. At this time, descriptions were enhanced to improve the description of enslaved people. Item numbers correspond to a scheme specific to the Scheide Library; materials with no item numbers listed in this finding aid are those that did not have existing item numbers at the time of 2020 descriptive work.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

William H. Scheide Collection on Slavery in North America; Rare Book Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
whs: Box 1