Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in History


Arch Dalrymple III Department of History

First Advisor

Mohammed Bashir Salau

Second Advisor

Zachary Kagan Guthrie

Third Advisor

Adetayo Alabi

Relational Format



This dissertation is about the children rescued from slave traders by the British colonial government in Northern Nigeria in the early twentieth century. The children were first settled in state-owned Freed Slaves Homes located at Zungeru and Borno provinces in 1904. After the state-owned Homes were abolished in 1909, they were moved to the privately-owned Lucy Memorial Freed Slaves’ Home. The study focuses on the experiences of these liberated children within the premises of the Freed Slaves' Homes and in settings outside of these institutions in Northern Nigeria. Drawing on previously unused archival materials obtained from various parts of the world including Nigeria, Ghana, and the United Kingdom, the dissertation explores what “freedom” meant for the formerly enslaved children. Although the colonial administration described the children under study as liberated, my study reveals that they were freed but not free. Put differently, it reveals that they, occupied a position in-between of slavery and freedom. In addition to arguing that the liberated children occupied a unique position in society, this dissertation stresses, among others, that Freed Slaves’ Homes played significant roles in colonial Northern Nigeria, that childhood is a social construction, and that the management of the relevant Homes and the experiences of children based in the various institution were similar, but not identical.



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