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The History of Slavery and the Slave Trade


This page suggests sources for researching the economics of slavery, including the price of slaves and making historical comparisons of value. The sources are grouped into the following types of information from which you may select:



Find Books

To find books and videos on the economic aspects of slavery in a particular country, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to the Advanced Search in the library catalog.

  2. On the first line select SUBJECT as the field and type SLAVERY in the text box.

  3. On the second line select SUBJECT as the field and type ECONOMIC in the text box.

  4. On the third line leave the default ANY FIELD and type a country in the text box. (Omit this step to see all countries.)

  5. Click on the Submit button.

Note that, for material on modern-day slavery, the term HUMAN TRAFFICKING may be used in place of SLAVERY for more precise results.

Find Articles

These are databases that index articles in fields that may be useful for this topic.  Some suggested search terms are slavery, human trafficking, forced labor, or forced labour (variant spelling for non-U.S. English language publications). 

  1. ABI/Inform
    Database (ASU access only):

    Accesses articles from English-language periodicals worldwide covering business, management, and related areas. Includes academic journals, trade magazines and financial newspapers.

  2. Academic Search Premier
    Database (ASU access only):

    Covers articles from periodicals and journals across all disciplines since 1975.

  3. America: History and Life
    Database (ASU access only):

    Indexes articles on the U.S. and Canada published in history journals, dissertations, proceedings, etc. since 1954.

  4. Google Scholar
    Database (ASU access only):

    Provides access to Google Scholar with ASURITE authentication so it will allow free access to ASU subscribed content and facilitate the generation of interlibrary loan requests for content not subscribed to by the library.  There is no charge for interlibrary loan requests.

  5. Historical Abstracts
    Database (ASU access only):

    Covers the history of the world from 1450 to the present (except for the U.S. and Canada). This is material published in history journals, dissertations, proceedings, etc. as far back as 1954.

  6. EconLit
    Database (ASU access only):

    Indexes the world's economic literature published as far back as 1886.

Data Sources

  1. Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719-1820 - Calculations

  2. Global Report on Trafficking in Persons

    Assesses the patterns and prevalence of modern human trafficking globally, regionally, and nationally, and evaluates government response.

  3. Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970
    Book:  HA202 .A38 1975 Hayden Stacks and 
                C3.134:H 62/1789-1970 Hayden US Documents located on Ready Reference Table
    Part 1. 
    Part 2.

  4. Historical Statistics of the United States: Earliest Times to the Present
    Book:  HA202 .H57 2006 Hayden Doc Reference located on Ready Reference Table

  5. Historical Statistics of the United States: Millennial Edition 
    Database (ASU access only):

    Provides interactive access to U.S. historical statistics from colonial times to 2000. Includes tables on slave prices, demographics, and imports; slave economics GNP; and slaveholder data. An essay on Slavery puts the data into historical context and references numerous research publications.

  6. International Labour Organization: Forced Labour

    Aggregates ILO material on present-day forced labor including the ILO Global Estimate on Forced Labour report under "Key Resources."

  7. Measuring Slavery in 2011

    Looks at measures of value for slaves in U.S. historical data and uses a variety of methods to calculate present-day value.

  8. Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links
    Book: E29.N3 H35 2005 Downtown, Hayden, and West Stacks

    Has appendix on "Prices of Slaves by Ethnicity and Gender in Louisiana, 1719-1820."

  9. Slavery in the Development of the Americas
    Book: HT1048 .S55 2004  Downtown, Hayden, and West Stacks

    Includes chapters on "Prices of African Slaves Newly Arrived in the Americas, 1673-1865" and "American Slave Markets during the 1850s: Slave Price Rises in the United States, Cuba, and Brazil in Comparative Perspective."

  10. U.S. Department of Labor: International Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

    Presents the three reports maintained by the Department of Labor on forced labor issues covering the child labor enforcement efforts of U.S. trading partners and listing the goods produced by child labor and forced labor and the source countries.

Historical Currency Conversions

  1. Colonial Currency - The Comparative Value of Money Between Britain and the Colonies

  2. Handbook of Medieval Exchange
    Book:  HG3942 .S68x Hayden Stacks

    Lists exchange rates for various currencies in Europe and the Mediterranian area.

  3. How Much is That in Real Money?: A Historical Price Index for Use as a deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States
    Book: HB235 .U6 M39 Hayden Stacks

    Includes prices for the United States from 1700-1991 and for Great Britain from 1600-1991 as well as American Revolutionary War currency depreciation tables.

  4. Journal of Economic History
    “Dollar-Sterling Mint Parity and Exchange Rates, 1791-1834.”
    E-journal article (ASU access only):

    “Foreign Interest Rates in American Financial Markets: A Revised Series of Dollar-Sterling Exchange Rates, 1835-1900.” 
    E-journal article (ASU access only):


    Provides calculators and data sets for measuring the present monetary value of a past amount for the US (since 1774), the UK (since 1270), Australia (since 1828), Japan (since 1879) and China (since 1952); for calculating inflation in the US (since 1775) and the UK (since 1265); and for converting a historic price in British pounds to present-day US dollars and vice versa.

  6. Money and Exchange in Europe and America, 1600-1775
    Book: HG219 .M33 Hayden Stacks

  7. The National Archives (UK) Currency Converter

    Converts between past and present-day money values in the UK for various years between 1270 and the present.

  8. The Value of a Dollar : Colonial Era to the Civil War, 1600-1865
    Book:  HB235.U6 D47 2005 Hayden Doc Reference

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