In this interesting book, Sean Moore demonstrates that five of the most significant early American libraries depended on the economic benefits their elite white male proprietors reaped from slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. The libraries, in the order they appear in the study, are the Salem Social Library (founded 1760), the Redwood Library of Newport (1747), the New York Social Library (1754), the Charleston Library Society (1748), and the Library Company of Philadelphia (1731). Each library is the focus of a chapter that dives deeply into institutional records, shipping and financial records, and family papers in order to demonstrate the thorough entanglement of specific proprietors with the spoils of the slave system: whether they enslaved people themselves, invested in slaving voyages to West Africa, or sold and profited from the sale of slave commodities like rum, molasses, sugar, or tobacco. The book contains a wealth of detailed information about...

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