Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Unknown [Middle Passage iron bilboes, 18th century]

Request a pdf of this item here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC09707 Author/Creator: Unknown Place Written: s.l. Type: Object Date: 1700-1800 Pagination: 1 shackle ; 41 x 12.5 x 5.5 cm.

Summary of Content: One set of middle passage iron bilboes, circa 1680-1800. Item is an iron restraint for ankles or wrists used on slave ships to fasten two enslaved people to each other. Consist of an iron bar running through two c-shaped cuffs. One end of the rod has been flattened to make it too big to be removed from the cuffs. The other end of the rod has a loop that is attached to an iron circle used to attach the item to another.

Background Information: Bilboes are iron restraints placed on the ankles or wrists, most notably used on slave ships to fasten two slaves together. The word bilboes is thought to be a derivation ...of Bilbao (Spain), where the device was reportedly invented. See More


Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Slave SaleSlave TradeSlavery

Sub Era: Slavery & Anti-slavery

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources