Blog Post 7 :)

Online Link:

Museum Label: This document is a receipt for the purchase of a slave in Essex County, Virginia. This transaction occurred in 1826 and the slave was purchased by the head of the Rouzze family plantation, Edward Rouzee, in regard to the death of the slave’s former master Mr. James Thomas. This receipt also describes that this slave was purchased for four dollars and fifty cents  which is equivalent to about one hundred dollars today.

I picked this historical piece because it is so crazy to me how a person how a person once had value as an item that could be purchased and sold. Of course I knew that slaves were purchased and traded, but seeing an actual receipt for a human being shocks me and affirms even further what I already knew was true. Another interesting detail about this document is that it shows how much a slave was worth during the 1820s which is not highlighted too much in history classes. After learning some inflation history and researching, I learned that four dollars and fifty cents is equal to one hundred dollars on the present-day scale.

I think this document is significant because it shows just how real and normalized slavery was. Again, we all know that slavery happened, but seeing documents such as this receipt shows how twisted American minds were. This document shows just how normal selling people as property was, it was not seen as racist or hateful but as a way of life. When we see receipts nowadays it’s for products we buy at the grocery store or mall and that is exactly how human beings were seen just over one hundred years ago, as items made to be sold for profit and used for personal gain.

It is truly amazing how documents like this were found and able to be preserved in museums because documents, especially receipts, are often thrown away. It is important for products of history to be analyzed and kept in museums because people can continue to learn new things everyday. By going to museums, digitally or in person, and looking at documents that we are not shown to us in schools, we can learn more about why certain subjects are sensitive and deserve to be talked about more.

2 thoughts on “Blog Post 7 :)

  1. This is a well-worded object label for this receipt of sale and I enjoyed learning more about your thoughts on this piece and its historical significance. I completely agree that it feels troubling to see a tangible “bill of sale”– we can talk about receipts all day long, but to see it digitally or in person creates a deeper sense of empathy. It was a normal staple of the American economy, as you point out. The preservation and display of historical objects ( responsibly and ethically) is so important and creates a significant need for museums!

  2. Your chosen object for the Museum label is very interesting and at the same time unfortunate to realise the brutal economy of the United States back in the 19th century. As you mentioned, we all know that the slaves were a huge part of the economy and treated as property when sometimes bank also provided loans to owners of the slaves treating them as a property for security. It is really fascinating to come across the document that legalised the transaction for the purchase and sale of a slave who was apparently only a hundred dollars as of today. Again, the label just seems about perfect for the object and its brief description to be displayed in a museum.

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