In 1753, a pregnant woman named Paula was kidnapped in Angola, enslaved, and taken to Brazil. Four decades later, in 1794, Paula's children and grandchildren, 15 in total, filed a lawsuit for their family's freedom in Rio de Janeiro claiming that Paula was a free woman in Angola before her enslavement. This article reconstructs Paula and her descendants' multigenerational legal battle and reveals that their struggle for freedom was, in large part, a struggle against archives. I examine a unique aspect of the freedom suit: witness testimony from Paula's former kin and community in Angola, collected across the Atlantic Ocean four decades after Paula's enslavement. I argue that the memory and testimony of Paula's kin and community in Angola formed a powerful counterarchive that not only narrated her freedom in Angola but also challenged the Brazilian colonial archive's reliance on paper evidence of freedom.

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