Debate about the nature of American slavery has had a significant impact on American public life, government policy making, and ideas about justice, equality and rights. And yet we know precious little about the most important archive on which the history of slavery in the United States has been based. In excavating the tales and experiences of the people and groups who created these crucial documents, this project will transform our understanding of American slave history. It will also challenge and transform the usual understanding of the origins of social history and of oral history. The project will, finally, consolidate the stellar reputation of Australian-based historians of the United States.