Notice regarding men who had escaped enslavement in Mecklenburg, North Carolina. The writer notes one man’s “oznabrig” shirt. Rind's Virginia Gazette, Williamsburg, Virginia,
14 Dec 1769, p. 3.

Though slavery in the United States is usually associated with cotton, flax and figured prominently in lives of enslaved people. Because rough linen could better withstand the effects of their hard labor, enslaved people had to spin flax for their clothes or they were clad in “oznabrig”—a coarse, cheap linen imported from Osnabrück, Germany.

Painful to wear (see label about Booker T. Washington in this vitrine) and so easily identifiable that it was frequently mentioned in descriptions of escaped slaves, oznabrig exerted tactile and visual power in slavery-based culture.

Item sets