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THNOC and LEH Partner for “Purchased Lives” Traveling Exhibit

On June 3, 2016 The Historic New Orleans Collection and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities announced Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865, a traveling panel exhibition exploring the history of the domestic slave trade. Presented by Entergy Corporation with additional support from the National Park Service and the Kabakoff Family Foundation, the exhibition traveled to 11 Louisiana communities in 2016-2018.

Tour Sites

Cane River Creole National Historical Park in Natchitoches, Nov. 1, 2016 – Dec. 13, 2016
City Hall in Bunkie, January 2, 2017 – February 13, 2017
West Baton Rouge Museum, February 17, 2017 – March 31, 2017
Organization of American Historians Annual Conference in New Orleans, April 5 – April 11 2017
Jackson Parish Library in Jonesboro, April 17, 2017 – May 26, 2017
Bossier Parish Library, June 1, 2017 – July 13, 2017
Bayou Teche Museum in New Iberia, July 17, 2017 – August 28, 2017
Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, September 5, 2017 – October 13, 2017
Pointe Coupee Library in New Roads, October 17, 2017 – November 28, 2017
St. Tammany Parish Library in Slidell, December 1, 2017 – January 12, 2018
Calcasieu Parish Public Libraries, January 16, 2018 – February 27, 2018

Curated by THNOC Historian Erin M. Greenwald, Purchased Lives examines the period between America’s 1808 abolishment of the international slave trade and the end of the Civil War, during which an estimated two million people were forcibly moved among the nation’s states and territories. The domestic trade wreaked new havoc on the lives of enslaved families, as owners and traders in the Upper South—Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, DC—sold and shipped surplus laborers to the developing Lower South—Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Many of those individuals passed through New Orleans, which was the largest slave market in antebellum America.

About the Exhibition

This traveling panel exhibition presents facsimiles of objects that were presented in Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808–1865 at The Historic New Orleans Collection from March to July 2015.

Exhibition Content

  • Explores the history of the domestic slave trade, from the abolition of the international trade in 1808 to the close of the Civil War
  • Provides resources for understanding the profound impact of the trade on the millions of enslaved individuals who found themselves forcibly separated from their communities
  • Examines New Orleans’s role as the country’s largest and most profitable slave market
  • Looks at industries that undergirded the slave trade, including banking, insurance, health care, provisioning, and textile manufacturing

Digital Components

First iPad:

  • “Mapping the Coastal Slave Trade” interactive map, tracking the movement of more than 70,000 men, women, and children forcibly shipped to New Orleans between 1819 and 1860
  • “Freedom on the Move” interactive map, showing contemporary sites associated with newspaper ads for fugitive slaves
  • “Lost Friends” database, providing access to more than 1,000 postwar ads placed by individuals seeking to reconnect with loved ones lost in slavery

Second iPad

  • Visitor survey, collecting demographic data and feedback

Exhibition Materials

  • Five double-sided, collapsible banner stands (total of ten panels)
  • Each banner stand footprint is 37ʺ w x 10ʺ d
  • Each panel, when installed, is 31.5ʺ w x 84ʺ h
  • Two freestanding iPad kiosks with digital components
  • Resource notebook containing detailed support material

Associated Programming

  • Each host site will appoint a project director; all project directors will travel to New Orleans for group content training prior to installation.
  • Host sites are asked to develop associated programming.
  • Sample programming ideas for film screenings, book clubs, and discussion groups will be provided.

Accompanying Materials

THNOC will provide a press kit, including sample press release, high-resolution photos, and art for ads.


  • $3,000 provided for labor costs, in-house training, programming, and promotion
  • Travel costs for project director training in New Orleans
  • Travel costs for project director and one assistant to attend implementation workshop at the first installation location

About The Historic New Orleans Collection

Located in the French Quarter, THNOC is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to the study and preservation of the history and culture of Louisiana and the Gulf South region. For more information, visit

About the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

The LEH is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans. For more information, visit

The initiative is presented by Entergy Corporation with additional support from the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Kabacoff Family Foundation.