The scholarship on transatlantic slavery has long benefited from the often-exhaustive data published in the fugitive slave archive. Ubiquitous throughout the transatlantic world, fugitive slave advertisements were commonly placed by slave owners seeking to recapture enslaved people who had fled. Such notices commonly provided specific, invasive detail about an enslaved person’s body, dress, skills, languages, and even gestures and mannerisms. However, enslaved females standardly comprised a smaller number of runaways. Nevertheless, the fugitive notices that do exist for female runaways, shed light on their lives and experiences. Through an examination of the fugitive slave archive and other sources, this paper seeks to fill some of the scholarly gaps on the experiences of enslaved females of African descent in Canada. More specifically, this paper will offer some distinctions between the lives and experiences of enslaved females in slave minority (temperate) and slave majority (tropical) sites in the British transatlantic world.
Charmaine Nelson is Visiting Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies.
Sponsored by the Committee on Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, the Canada Program at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.