Skip to Main Content

Slavery and Abolition

Graphic Arts Collection

The Graphic Arts Collection includes over 150 works of art in which African Americans are depicted. Some are political, and some merely genre scenes. Some are explicitly about slavery. To search the collection of prints, drawings, photographs, and other non-book visual material, visit the Visuals Database for Graphic Arts.

Selected depictions of slaves and slavery in the U.S.

Alice Denniston Laughlin (1895-1952), Lincoln frees the slaves, ca. 1930. Woodcut. GC024 American Prints Collection, GA 2007.01605. Depiction: Stylized profile portrait of Lincoln kneeling, loosening shackles on standing slave's ankles.


Maria Wilds, Zante the negro, 1848. Needlework on canvas. GC072 Textiles Collection. Depiction: A sampler, showing kneeling black man holding up his chained hands. Inscribed, above: 'Zante the Negro // [D]rag[ge]d from my native home // [B]y a cruel white mans hand // [N]o more to see my native home // [N]o more to see my native land'


Published by Currier & Ives (1834-1907), Freedom to the slaves, 1860. Lithograph. GC019 Currier & Ives Lithographs Collection, GA 1997.00021. Inscribed: Freedom to the slaves proclaimed January 1st 1863, by Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.


Thomas Nast (1840-1902), Slavery is dead (?), January 12, 1867. Wood engraving. GC002 Thomas Nast Collection, GA 2008.01271.


Thomas Nast (1840-1902), Worse than slavery, October 24, 1874. Wood engraving. GC002 Thomas Nast Collection, GA 2008.01533.


Thomas Nast (1840-1902), Untitled [African American boy marching with a broom], 1869. Ink wash on paper. GC002 Thomas Nast Collection, GA 2008.01669.


Unidentified artist, Practical illustration of the Fugitive Slave Law, 1851. Lithograph. GC024 American Prints Collection, GA 2007.02937. Depiction: Caricature of battle scene in front of the "Temple of Liberty," featuring William Lloyd Garrison and Daniel Webster along with numerous other figures, including fugitive slaves. Inscribed on stone: It's my turn now Old Slave Driver // Don't be alarmed Susanna, you're safe enough // Don't back out Webster, if you do we're ruind // This, though Constitutional, is extremely disagreeable // We will give these fellows a touch of South Carolina // I goes in for Law & Order // This is all your fault Webster.


James Carter Beard (1837-1913), The Fifteenth Amendment, celebrated May 19th, 1870. Hand-colored lithograph. GC024 American Prints Collection, GA 2008.00284. Depiction: Celebration scene surrounded by various vignettes of freedom.


Thomas Worth (1834-1917), Great Western Nurseries, transplanted stock a specialty!!!, 1868. Pen and ink on board. GC059 American Drawings and Paintings Collection, GA 2007.00169. Depiction: Heads of black men growing out of planters, being watered by “Political invigorator water.”


Unidentified artist, Expulsion of negroes and abolitionists from Tremont Temple, Boston, Massachusetts, on December 3, 1860, December 15, 1860. Wood engraving. GC057 Harper's Weekly Illustrations Collection.