Old Slave Mart Museum Charleston

Old Slave Mart Museum Charleston

Slavery is in the past. Nowadays few things remind of slavery times. However, there is one place in Charleston SC that pays homage to slaves and their struggle. Old Slave Mart Museum was founded in a building where slave auctions took place in the 19th century. The museum tends to show to locals and visitors the awful conditions in which slaves were held and to raise the awareness about such issues as: labour exploitation and discrimination. Visiting this museum should not be an activity for fun but rather a conscious decision to go and see the cruelties and inhumane conditions endured by slaves.

Historical facts

The museum’s building was used in the past as an auction where slaves were sold. The auction was founded in 1859 briefly before the Civil War started. This fact didn’t allow for a big number of slaves to be sold. Still, the auctions that had been held prior to the war took place in awful conditions that can be experienced in the Old Slave Mart Museum nowadays. Due to the abolition of slavery after the Civil War, the auction ceased also to activate.

In 1938, the building turned into a museum paying tribute to the struggles of slaves. All relics related to the slavery era were preserved in the building. In this way visitors can get a more realistic image of the cruel treatment slaves received at that time. This gives a dreadful feeling to remember. The museum was even added to the register of historical places of the USA for its enlightment of this dark period of the American history and of Charleston’s African-American past.


If you muster up courage to visit this museum, you will be able to attend a range of activities that will raise your awareness and help you acquire curious knowledge. As in any other museum, you will get the chance to enjoy a tour throughout the building. Some of the walls are covered with informative displays that provide data and other meaningful information related to the history of slavery. You can learn about the number of enslaved people living in South Carolina and the number of those that were sold at that auction, as well as unique stories of people that have undergone the slavery ordeal. A poster of special interest is one that depicts the interview of a former slave. The posters contain not only data but also relevant images that tell the story of the former slave market in Charleston.

As regards the staff of the Old Slave Mart Museum Charleston, all of them have a background that is linked somehow to the history of slavery in Charleston, which was the city through which a big part of the African slaves entered America. Some of them are relatives of enslaved people living in the 19th century being greatly informed about this phenomenon and knowing interesting facts that they would enjoy sharing with you.

Probably the most preferable activity in the museum is a tour of artefacts and tools that were used in slavery times. You can have a look at various accessories used to torment and constrain enslaved people. For example, you will have the chance to see such a torture tool as: iron yoke that served for confining the body of the slave, reducing his mobility and preventing him from rioting. Other tools available are: 19th century shackles, whip and restraint that were used to make the slave docile and willing to serve in spite of his pain and desire to set free.

Old Slave Mart Museum is more of an informative trip in the past aimed to raise the awareness of present generations and to tell the history of a cruel event that should never be repeated. This is why considering it for leisure activity to entertain would only lead to your disappointment. However, if you have a soft spot for history or have a special interest in the slavery phenomenon in the United States, or just want to pay homage to the victims of that cruel period, you are free to visit this museum. You will learn a lot of useful information, telling facts and data, and tools depicting the torture endured by enslaved people in the 19th century.

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