Skip to main content

Walter Vincent Johnson collection on slavery

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0201

Scope and Contents

Walter Johnson began his study of slavery in Delaware in 1910. He died two years later; the work was never completed. The collection consists of notecards on sources compiled for the history. Johnson consulted material from the time of the Swedish settlements through the 1860s.

The information came from both published compilations of primary sources and original manuscripts. Some of the documents Johnson used were held by the Historical Society of Delaware and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Other sources included Delaware church records and contemporary newspapers: "The Delaware Gazette," "Delaware and Eastern Shore Advertiser," and the "Negroes and Indians Advocate."

Johnson interviewed Margaret (Marge) Walker, who was formerly enslaved, for his study. She commented freely on all aspects of her life while enslaved. Notecards on this interview are in the collection, and are the only part of Johnson's work that cannot be reconstructed.

Johnson was interested in the social and economic conditions of slavery, and noted which aspect each source addressed. Although the note cards alone would be difficult to use, Johnson meticulously cited his sources, so one could turn to the original for more data.


  • Creation: 1690-1860


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

Walter Vincent Johnson was born in Baltimore in 1889. He attended high school at City College and entered The Johns Hopkins University in 1906. After receiving his B. A. in 1910, he went to Delaware to research slavery in that state. He died unexpectedly of heart failure in 1912.


0.47 Cubic Feet (1 legal size document box)

Language of Materials



Walter Johnson began a study of slavery in Delaware in 1910, but died two years later. The collection consists of notecards on sources from the time of the Swedish settlements (approximately 1690) through 1860, including his own interview with a formerly enslaved person.

Custodial History

The notecards were left in the History department at the time of Walter Johnson's unexpected death in 1912. They were transferred to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Margaret N. Burri in July 1988.

Liz Beckman revised the Scope and Content note in this finding aid in January 2024 to bring it into compliance with Johns Hopkins guidelines for inclusive and conscientious description (2023). The previous version of the finding aid is available upon request.



Guide to the Walter Vincent Johnson collection on slavery
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA