The Amistad Research Center is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing open access to original materials that reference the social and cultural importance of America's ethnic and racial history, the African Diaspora, human relations, and civil rights.
The Amistad Research Center is located at 6823 St. Charles Avenue in the Audubon neighborhood of New Orleans’ Uptown district. Housed in Tilton Memorial Hall on the campus of Tulane University, Amistad is situated on the St. Charles streetcar line just a few minutes from numerous restaurants in the Riverbend/Carrollton area, and is easily accessible from downtown New Orleans as well as the French Quarter.
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The Amistad Research Center was established by the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries at Fisk University in 1966 to house the historical records of the American Missionary Association. In 1969 Amistad became an independent non-profit organization, and the following year, it relocated to Dillard University in New Orleans. By the early 1980s, Amistad moved to the United States Mint building in the French Quarter. In 1986, Amistad sought a permanent home and found its permanent location on the campus of Tulane University, where the Center has resided since 1987. From its beginnings as the first archives documenting the modern civil rights movement, Amistad has experienced considerable expansion and its mission continues to evolve.
The history of slavery, race relations, African American community development, and the civil rights movement have received new and thought-provoking interpretations as the result of scholarly and community research using Amistad's resources. The holdings include the papers of artists, educators, authors, business leaders, clergy, lawyers, factory workers, farmers, and musicians.
On the morning of June 28, 1839, La Amistad (Friendship) set sail from Havana, beginning an adventure of far-reaching historical consequences. On board the little schooner were 53 Africans who had been abducted from West Africa and sold in violation of international law. Their intended fate was enslavement on plantations down coast from Havana. On the third day out, the Africans revolted and ordered that the ship be guided toward the rising sun back to Africa, but each night the Cubans reversed direction. Zigzagging for two months, the ship eventually was brought by northerly winds and currents to Long Island. The Africans were jailed and charged with piracy and murder. In New York City, a group of Christian abolitionists, headed by Lewis Tappan, formed a defense committee. Attorney Roger Sherman Baldwin, with help from former President John Quincy Adams, took the case to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled that the Africans were free.