3400 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218

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Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865
June 1 – July 27, 2018 

A version of the powerful and poignant exhibition Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865 is now on view at Homewood Museum. Developed by The Historic New Orleans Collection, “Purchased Lives” examines the period between America’s abolishment of the international slave trade in 1808 and the end of the Civil War. During these 57 years, an estimated two million people were forcibly moved among the nation’s states and territories, primarily from the Upper South—Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.— to the developing Lower South—Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

As one of the busiest ports in the Upper South, Baltimore was a key player in this thriving slave economy, with slave traders advertising in the daily newspapers, slave pens dotting the downtown, and slave ships departing regularly from the wharfs lining the Inner Harbor. Using text panels, images, objects, video, and a special layered map pinpointing the locations of Baltimore’s slave-trading operations, Homewood Museum’s version of “Purchased Lives” provides a picture of the north-to-south slave-trading circuit that flourished in the mid-19th century.

In addition to providing a broad overview of the political and economic factors that influenced the persistence of chattel slavery in America, the exhibition examines the personal and emotional toll slavery inflicted on individuals and families. Whether it is an enslaved child’s shoe or a ship’s manifest bearing the names of enslaved workers from Homewood, the objects displayed speak to the local lives that were shaped by the voracious churn of the domestic slave trade.

Visitor Information

On view 11am–4pm Tuesday–Friday, noon–4pm Saturday–Sunday (last guided tour departs at 3:30pm) / Free with museum admission.

Related Programming
  • Talk by Jennie Williams — "Rough Passages on Tremendous Seas": June 8, 2018, 5–7 p.m. / $8 public; Free for members and Johns Hopkins faculty, staff, and students / Register online through Eventbrite or call 410.516.5589

The exhibition was organized by The Historic New Orleans Collection. Its presentation at Homewood Museum is curated by Julie Rose, Director and Curator of Homewood Museum. Special thanks to Paula Baver for granting use of her display "Baltimore's Slave Trade 1816-1861."


Funding for the exhibition was generously provided by Forbes and Sara Maner and SunTrust Bank.