Children in Slavery through the Ages — 2009

Edited by Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph C. Miller

“This anthology epitomized the strengths of the new history of slavery: a world-wide perspective that cuts across time and space … and an emphasis on the actual experience of enslavement and on enslaved peoples as active agents with their own distinct voices.”

Steven Mintz — author of Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood

“The new history of slavery has begun to excavate women’s experiences and unpack the gendered nature of enslavement, but Campbell et al. offer the first focus on children, a focus that clearly resonates with international concern about child labor and child sexual abuse in the world today…. This is a path-breaking collection….”

Enterprise & Society

“The aims of (Children in Slavery Through the Ages’s) editors—to uncover the reasons for the purchase of slave children; and to illustrate their experiences—are amply fulfilled…. What is particularly illuminating about these essays is their potential to inform the study of children in contemporary forms of slavery, where here too, poverty is a central feature, deceit is widespread, and children are perceived as more submissive and easier to control.”

Reviews in History

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Significant numbers of the people enslaved throughout world history have been children. The vast literature on slavery has grown to include most of the history of this ubiquitous practice, but nearly all of it concentrates on the adult males whose strong bodies and laboring capacities preoccupied the masters of the modern Americas. Children in Slavery through the Ages examines the children among the enslaved across a significant range of earlier times and other places; its companion volume will examine the children enslaved in recent American contexts and in the contemporary/modern world.

This is the first collection to focus on children in slavery. These leading scholars bring our thinking about slaving and slavery to new levels of comprehensiveness and complexity. They further provide substantial historical depth to the abuse of children for sexual and labor purposes that has become a significant humanitarian concern of governments and private organizations around the world in recent decades.

The collected essays in Children in Slavery through the Ages fundamentally reconstruct our understanding of enslavement by exploring the often-ignored role of children in slavery and rejecting the tendency to narrowly equate slavery with the forced labor of adult males. The volume’s historical angle highlights many implications of child slavery by examining the variety of children’s roles—as manual laborers and domestic servants to court entertainers and eunuchs—and the worldwide regions in which the child slave trade existed.


Gwyn Campbell, Canada Research Chair in Indian Ocean World History at McGill University, is the author and editor of many works, including Abolition and Its Aftermath in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia and An Economic History of Imperial Madagascar.


Suzanne Miers is professor emerita of history at Ohio University. She is the author of Slavery in the Twentieth Century and coeditor of The End of Slavery and other books.


Joseph C. Miller is the T. Cary Johnson, Jr. Professor of history at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Kings and Kinsmen, Way of Death, and works on the world history of slavery.

Cover of 'Children in Slavery through the Ages'

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PDF978-0-8214-4339-2
Paperback978-0-8214-1877-2
Hardcover978-0-8214-1876-5

248 pages · 6¹⁄₈ × 9¼ in.

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Hardcover: world · Paperback: world · PDF: world

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