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James Birney Collection of Anti-Slavery Pamphlets
James G. Birney was born into a wealthy Kentucky slaveholding family in 1782, but a religious conversion sparked his desire "to devote his life to the cause of truth in some moral or religious enterprise." Gradually convinced of the sinfulness of slavery, he left a successful law practice to become an agent for abolition.
As an abolitionist writer and publisher, James Birney recognized that books, pamphlets and newspapers were the lifeblood of anti-slavery agitation. He began to read and collect every work on slavery that he could find.
In 1891, his son William presented his father's collection of over 1,000 books and pamphlets to The Johns Hopkins University. It contained materials gathered by James Birney in the course of his anti-slavery labors, and items gathered by William Birney while preparing a biography of his father. Over the years the collection has been augmented and now includes both anti- and pro-slavery material; printed speeches; African colonization; politics and campaign biographies; and black eduction.
In 1983, Hopkins received funding from the US Department of Education to rebind and fully catalog the collection. Part of the project involved the creation of a printed guide. Access to the printed guide is now available through a series of PDF files. Please note that some of these files are quite large and may require patience while downloading.