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African-American History Survey, 1400-1860

Primary Documents

Primary Documents- Documents that are first-hand accounts of a topic or historical event, from people who a direct connection to it. For your class, you want to focus on primary documents before 1865. 

For your class, primary document examples may include: 

  • Historical Maps may include but are not limited to: maps documenting the slave trade, Haitian Revolution 
  • Materials from Manuscript Collections: Bills of sale, Newspaper articles before 1865, letters between families, and record books 
  • Photographs-Questions to Ask If You Want to Use Them: Why is this person being photographed?, Why might they be photographed? (Are they someone of importance? Are they considered a vital part of a family? Are they free?), What are they wearing? How does that show their station in life? 

Manuscript Collections

Manuscript Collections consist primarily of unpublished documents such as literary manuscripts, letters, diaries, cartoons, photographs, architectural drawings, and organizational, church and governmental records. Also included are printed materials, audio recordings, and other items. The collections focus on materials related to the people and history of the greater Charlotte region, with particular attention to the Charlotte/Mecklenburg area.


Maps in Special Collections primarily focus on Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and range from the late 1700s to the present day.