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Website of the Week —

Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. Our web guide is VOA's Art Chimes, with a selection especially timed to coincide with African-American History Month here in the United States.

This week, from perhaps the darkest chapter in our nation's history, we feature a website that displays life under what historian Kenneth Stampp called a "peculiar institution" that persisted in the Americas for centuries.

" is a website, which now contains about 1,200 images portraying the lives of Africans and their descendants in the slave societies of the New World," says Jerome Handler, the founder of

The website is presented by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia.

"I wanted to give people an idea of the range and diversity of customs and behaviors found among Africans and their descendants in the New World," says Handler. "And I also wanted to avoid images that grossly portrayed Africans and their descendants."

Handler recommends that first-time visitors go to the search page, where they can browse topics like "slave ships" or "plantation scenes," or search for pictures that mostly date from the slave period.

"All of these images were created roughly during the time period that they're referring to. So you can put in any word that you want. You can put in 'housing.' You can put in 'family life.' You can put in 'shoes.' Or you can put in particular areas: Ghana, Gold Coast, Nigeria and so on and so forth, and see what kind of images that we have."

Handler began collecting these pictures - many of them from old books and newspapers - to illustrate a course he was teaching some years ago. As an academic, he stresses that the website isn't just a collection of interesting pictures. Each image includes information about its source and comments to put it in historical context.

Pictures of life in the era of slavery at, or get the link to this and more than 200 other Websites of the Week, from our site,