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Jane  Landers  - Vanderbilt University. Nashville, TN, US

Jane Landers

Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History | Vanderbilt University


Expert on digital archives and the history of Colonial Latin America, slavery, early American black history.



Jane  Landers  Publication Jane  Landers  Publication Jane  Landers  Publication Jane  Landers  Publication



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Jane Landers speaks about Florida's 2013 Quincentennial The Missing Century of Black History in the Americas: Jane Landers at TEDxNashville Jane Landers - American Creoles in the Age of Revolutions Jane Landers



Jane Landers is a historian of Colonial Latin America and the Atlantic World specializing in the history of Africans and their descendants in those worlds.

She is the author of Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions (Cambridge, Mass., 2010) which was awarded the Rembert Patrick Book Award and honorary mention for the Conference on Latin American History’s 2011 Bolton Johnson Prize. Her first monograph Black Society in Spanish Florida (Urbana, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005) was awarded the Frances B. Simkins Prize for Distinguished First Book in Southern History and was a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. Landers co-authored the college textbook, The Atlantic World: A History, 1400-1888 (Harlan Davidson, 2007). She has published essays in The American Historical Review, Slavery and Abolition, The New West Indian Guide, The Americas, Colonial Latin American Historical Review, The Journal of African American History and a variety of anthologies and edited volumes.

Landers is also the director of the Slave Societies Digital Archive which is dedicated to identifying, cataloging and digitally preserving endangered archival materials documenting the history of Africans and their descendants in the Atlantic World. Additionally, she is a member of the UNESCO international Scientific Committee of slave routes.

Areas of Expertise (10)


Colonial Latin America

Caribbean History

Comparative Slave Systems

The Atlantic World

Slave Societies Digital Archive

America's Early Black History



Women and Gender

Accomplishments (3)

Caroline P. Rosseter Award for Outstanding Woman in Florida History (professional)

2018, Florida Historical Society

Tennessee State University Distinguished Scholar in African Diaspora Studies Award (professional)


Graduate Mentoring Award (professional)

2016, College of Arts & Sciences, Vanderbilt University

Education (3)

University of Florida: Ph.D., Latin American Colonial History 1988

University of Miami: M.A., Inter-American Studies 1974

University of Miami: B.A., Hispanic American Studies 1968

cum laude

Affiliations (3)

  • International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project : Member
  • Esclavages & post~esclavages – Slaveries & Post~slaveries : International Scientific Committee
  • Atlantic World : Editorial Board

Selected Media Appearances (4)

A Massive New Database Will Connect Billions of Historic Records to Tell the Full Story of American Slavery

Smithsonian  online


Historians, of course, have long made good use of various records, from plantation inventories and escaped slave advertisements to personal narratives collected by obscure abolition societies. But those details are housed at far-flung institutions, and not consistently organized. Jane Landers, a historian at Vanderbilt University, set out in 2003 to change that. Since that time, the project called the “Slave Societies Digital Archive” has digitized some 700,000 pages of religious and other documents from colonial Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Florida and Angola. Unlike in the English colonies, where enslaved people were treated almost exclusively as property, in Spanish and Portuguese America, they “were considered fully human, with souls to be saved,” Landers says. Their life events were faithfully recorded, often by the Catholic church. The earliest of these archives date to the 16th century.

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Nashville Civil War fort gets 'slave route' designation

National Post  online


A fort built by African Americans during the Civil War in Nashville has received an international designation for its significance to the history of slavery. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has named Fort Negley a “Site of Memory,” as part of its Slave Route Project.

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What Catholic Church records tell us about America’s earliest black history

The Conversation  online


For most Americans, black history begins in 1619, when a Dutch ship brought some “20 and odd Negroes” as slaves to the English colony of Jamestown, in Virginia. Many are not aware that black history in the United States goes back at least a century before this date.

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I dig through archives to unearth hidden stories from African-American history

The Conversation  online


Many years ago, as a graduate student searching in the archives of Spanish Florida, I discovered the first “underground railroad” of enslaved Africans escaping from Protestant Carolina to find religious sanctuary in Catholic Florida. In 1738, these runaways formed Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first free black settlement in what became the U.S.

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Selected Articles (4)

Franco/Spanish Entanglements in Florida and the Circumatlantic

Journal of Transnational American Studies

Jane Landers

2017 This essay analyzes the entangled histories of France and Spain in Florida and the circum-Atlantic and is based on little-utilized primary sources from Spain, Florida, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. The French and the Spaniards crossed paths, often violently, through war, piracy and revolutions, from the period when the French contested the Spanish territorial claims in the New World in the 16th century to the late 18th century when the French through Genêt, tried to revolutionize Florida.

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Catholic Conspirators? Religious Rebels in Nineteenth-Century Cuba

Slavery & Abolition

Jane Landers

2015 Previously untapped, Catholic Church records document historic networks among free black communities in Havana, Matanzas and other Atlantic ports. In earlier centuries, membership in overlapping religious and military corporations advanced their interests and gained them status in Spanish society.

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The Geopolitics of Seventeenth-Century Florida

The Florida Historical Quarterly

Jane Landers

2014 Disastrous droughts and epidemics (1597-1602, 1640s and 1680s) followed by famines severely strained Spain's financial and administrative resources. The general crisis was exacerbated by declines in American silver revenues caused by the demographic collapse of the native labor pools in New Spain and Peru.

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Journal of African American History

Jane Landers

2013 Spain was the first European nation to bring enslaved Africans into the Americas and the basic formula it employed, and which was later emulated by other slave trading nations, was to bring over one female for every three males.

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