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Dickinson, Hill and Co. Slave Trade Records

Call Number: MS181

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence and receipts from Dickinson, Hill and Co., a slave merchant and auctioneer firm based in Richmond, Virginia. The bulk of this collection’s materials are dated from 1850 to 1865.


  • Majority of material found within 1850 -- 1865
  • 1838 -- 1865



This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.


This collection is organized in one series.

Related Materials

American Antiquarian Society collection


0.55 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

The Dickinson, Hill & Co. slave merchant and auctioneer firm was based in Richmond Virginia and originally operated under the name R. H. Dickinson & Brother. It operated from at least 1845 until well into the Civil War. Richmond was the second largest slave market in the South, coming just after New Orleans. Dickinson & Brother and Dickinson, Hill & Company, although formally recognized as auctioneers, used traders as middle-men to buy and sell enslaved persons in other markets and also served as financiers for traders by providing lines of credit that they could use to buy enslaved persons.

Custodial History

These records were found in the Ryder Collection of Confederate Archives in 2011. The Ryder collection was cataloged as part of the WPA in 1939/1940 but in later decades the catalog ( A Calendar of the Ryder Collection of the Confederate Archives at Tufts College 1940) was forgotten and library staff added other materials to the Ryder collection, usually items from the South, from the 18th and 19th century and around the time of the Civil War.

Because the correspondence was not part of the original Ryder collection - given Ryder's congressional testimony he only picked up archival material in and immediately around the Richmond capitol and Dickenson's offices at the time were several blocks away, the correspondence was identified, removed from Ryder and a separate collection was created.

Processing Information

Processed by Susanne Belovari, spring 2012.

In April 2021 this finding aid was reviewed for offensive description by Collections Management Archivist Adrienne Pruitt. Terms pertaining to slavery were updated according to P. Gabrielle Foreman, et al. “Writing about Slavery/Teaching About Slavery: This Might Help” community-sourced document, accessed December 15, 2020,

Processing status

This collection is processed.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States