The Liberator in Full Online for Free!

The Molinari Institute is sponsoring a project to make all 35 years of William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, available for free online. Bitcoin (bitcoin:18Bojnp2UG3iDpXT9CxjutjsXQjWgbmSCW) or credit card donations will help us finish this project by August 2014. All of the issues will be scanned from microfilm sources and made freely available online at

Garrison's Liberator, running from 1831"“1865, was the most prominent periodical of radical Abolition in the united states. Garrison proclaimed, in the first issue, that:

": I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; "” but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest "” I will not equivocate "” I will not excuse "” I will not retreat a single inch "” AND I WILL BE HEARD."

Together with the circle of black and white radicals that the paper attracted, Garrison's Liberator helped organize, and offered a forum for, the movement that spent the next 35 years arguing for the immediate abolition of slavery, the end of racial prejudice and "American Colorphobia," and insisting that emancipation could only truly come about by inspiring a radical moral and social transformation. It urged a politics of radicalizing conscience, and denied that electoral gamesmanship, partisan politics, or political compromise would ever bring about liberation on their own. In the age of the Fugitive Slave Acts, the Garrisonians denounced the united states Constitution as a weapon of the slavers, "A Compromise with Death and an Agreement with Hell." Rejecting the use of either political or military force as a means of overcoming the slave system, they argued for Disunion ("No Union with Slaveholders, religiously or politically"), holding that the Northern free states should secede from the Union, thus peacefully withdrawing the Federal economic, political and military support that the Slave Power depended on, and (they argued) driving the slave system to collapse, by kicking out the Constitutional compromises that propped it up. Garrison and his circle, against the condemnation of more conservative anti-slavery activists, also constantly drew parallels and connections between the struggle against slavery and other struggles for social liberation, taking early and courageous stances in defense of women's rights and international peace.

The Molinari Institute, through its online texts project at the Fair Use Repository, has made several volumes of The Liberator available online in the form of full-issue facsimile PDFs. We're looking for help with this project in progress. Our ultimate aim is to make all 35 years of The Liberator available in full on the web. Full-issue PDFs will be scanned from the reproductions available on microfilm (American Periodical Series, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Mich.) through the Auburn University Libraries in Auburn, Alabama. (Scans from other sources are also welcome, if available, in order to supplement the collection when reproductions from the Auburn microform are illegible or defective.) All of the issues scanned will be made available for free through the Fair Use Repository. So far, 10 of the 35 volumes of The Liberator have been placed online, but to complete the task we could use your help.

The Liberator is huge -- 35 years, 52 issues published every year -- and the process of scanning the issues is time-consuming. The scanning has been done by volunteer labor, but given the number of hours involved we need to set aside some money to reimburse for the remaining labor. Moreover, in order to support an archive that we hope will become a very widely used historical resource for students, researchers and activists, will need to pay for additional resources to cover web hosting. We believe that this will be an immensely valuable resource for researchers, students, social-justice activists, anarchists, libertarians and anyone interested in the history of U.S. slavery, Abolitionism, and radical social movements. So we're looking for help with the following:

* Based on my experience so far, it takes about about two hours to scan one full year's worth of issues, including the time that it takes to take the scans and the time that it takes to integrate them into the website. To free up the time to do the scanning, which would otherwise be spent on fundraising for the Institute or day-job work to support its programs, we need to raise about $20 per hour of labor. With 24 volumes remaining to scan, that makes 24 vols * 2 hrs/vol * $20/hr = $960 to cover the labor needed to finish the scanning phase of the project. Without funding, this is likely to take years to complete. With funding, I estimate that we can set aside time to complete the scanning phase of the project within 14 weeks, wrapping up just before the beginning of August, with at least two new volumes being made available every week.

* In addition to the labor involved in the scanning, we will also need to purchase significant upgrades to the hosting service for in order to handle heightened traffic and increased demands on our web server. Our existing VPS hosting costs about $15 / mo (depending on traffic); an upgrade to the next highest class of VPS service would mean an additional expense of 15 / mo on top of that. So you can help support the project by helping us raise money for the first year of upgraded hosting -- $15/mo extra per month * 12 months = $180

* In addition to the $960 for scanning labor and the $180 for hosting services, we're asking for some stretch funds, up to a total of $2,000, if you support the project. Additional funding for The Liberator project will go towards: (1) covering costs for an additional year of web hosting, and (2) covering the labor to begin Phase II of the project, including the transcription of full-text searchable HTML transcriptions of articles and preparing an online hypertext index of names, titles and periodicals appearing in The Liberator.

Help us bring The Liberator onto the free and open web!


Charles W. Johnson
Auburn, AL

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.