Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Sarah Covington

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | History | Women's Studies


Barbados, Female Slaves


This thesis will focus on representations of African women in the British colony of Barbados in the early modern era, using travelers' accounts, planters' records and the writings of abolition-minded reformers. The topic is significant because most scholars have focused on British colonial life during the nineteenth century, examining the planter class or the region's colonial commodities.

The period from 1600 to 1700 was an era of beginnings in the British colonial world, with England establishing its first Caribbean colonies and experimenting with different economic strategies to gain wealth. This period was also significant due to the emergence of slavery in the emerging empire. Hundreds of Africans were shipped to the West Indies and subjected to harsh labor conditions for life. Out of this group emerged the female slaves, forced to become expendable properties. Their story is similar to enslaved African males, but there is little scholarship on their experiences during this period. One reason for this historiographical deficiency is that female slaves lacked primary sources. This thesis tries to find these women's voices by examining European sources. It will attempt to understand contemporary Europeans' perception of female slaves, in order to gain an insight into their lives.