Rudin Slavery Collection

Harpers Weekly Engraving, 'The Effects of the Proclamation'

The Gail and Stephen Rudin Collection on Slavery in America

In 2002 Gail Gifford Rudin ’56 and her husband, Stephen Rudin, donated their significant collection on the history of American slavery to Cornell University Library. While the Rudins have gifted multiple significant collections of manuscript documents and letters in the years since — each one carefully collected by Stephen Rudin, on topics ranging from English and American literature, the American Civil War, the development of the Atomic Bomb, letters by American Presidents, and many more — the slavery collection is of special importance.

The Rudin’s collection on the history of slavery in America is comprised of more than 500 documents, letters, and other items on the history of the sale, hire, purchase and debt payment of slaves in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America. With his collection, Mr. Rudin sought to demonstrate how slavery was intertwined in the common economic and social practices of everyday American life, and with the goal that this terrible aspect of American history will be more fully revealed and understood.

Through estate appraisals, wills, manumissions, taxation and insurance records, slave auction advertisements, correspondence, engravings, and other records, the collection offers important insights into the institution of slavery in America from the eighteenth century through the Civil War.

Cornell gratefully acknowledges Gail and Stephen Rudin for their generous gifts to Cornell University Library, including the financial support that made this digital collection possible.

Visit the complete finding aid for the physical collection, housed in Cornell Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

Attention: This digital collection includes historical documents that contain deeply disturbing racist imagery and/or painful descriptions of the institution of human chattel enslavement, primarily of Africans and African Americans, as it existed in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries.