The collection of anti-slavery material at John Rylands Library is a wide ranging and fascinating one, which is of particular importance for the study of provincial philanthropic societies in England. As well as this there are documents from Africa and many from the West Indies in addition to substantial papers concerning the American Civil War.

Forming an important part of the manuscripts at Rylands is the Raymond English collection of the letters, diaries, pamphlets and press cuttings of the abolitionist George Thompson and his son-in-law F.W. Chesson. It includes items relating to the Aborigine’s Protection Society and to the London Emancipation Committee.

Equally significant is the Wilson anti-slavery collection, a collection of 19th century pamphlets given by H.G. Wilson, the Member of Parliament for Sheffield. A.C. Wilson gave a large amount of the material held by the library. Well over one hundred items under the title “Letters to Mary Anne Rawson, Henry Joseph MP and others” include information on the abolitionist movement in Sheffield. Mrs. Rawson was the compiler of the “Bow in the Cloud” and there are numerous letters, rough notes, minutes etc., addressed to this publication, notably from the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Society. Also among the documents given by A.C. Wilson is a collection of miscellaneous poems on slavery copied from several sources, both manuscript and printed.

The microfilming of the Rylands slavery and anti-slavery papers represents one of the most valuable and practical aids to study in this field.

19 reels of 35mm silver positive roll microfilm
Reference: MUA