‘Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808–1865’
“Purchased Lives” is a valuable new exhibition about the domestic slave trade, with an emphasis on the city that was once home to America’s largest slave market. Among the items on display are an iron collar, attached to two brass bells, that was locked around the neck of a runaway slave; a series of classified ads placed after the Civil War in New Orleans newspapers seeking loved ones who had disappeared into slavery years and even decades earlier; and official documents that record the kidnapping and enslavement of Solomon Northup, including the journal of Northup’s local lawyer (“To day the slave Solomon was released and I received fifty dollars for my services.”). In a city that has few markers memorializing its outsized part in the slave trade—and where the local Civil War Museum largely avoids mentioning the institution by name—“Purchased Lives” is an impassioned plea for honesty and self-knowledge.
For more information, visit hnoc.org.
410 Chartres Street,
New Orleans, LA