Genealogy Research

Is Your Slave Ancestry in My File Cabinet?

I came across this blog post “The Importance of Sharing the Slave History From Your Family Tree”  from Genealogy with Valerie recently.  I found her post thought provoking.

Is Your Slave History in My File Cabinet?

Could I have someone else’s family history – i.e. slave history – in my file cabinet?

It turns out the answer is “Yes”.

Anyone who researches their southern family lines will bump up against the issue of slavery at some point.  Whether your ancestors were slaves, slave owners or slave traders, the issue is there.

It’s uncomfortable, but it is there. We cannot ignore history just because it is uncomfortable. History is just that …history.

Much of my personal genealogy research centers on my Virginia and North Carolina lines.  I have found slave owners among my ancestors in both states. They mostly appear in their wills and estate papers. The time I found a bill of sale for my ancestor’s slave was disconcerting. (I wanted desperately (and still do) to find out what happened to the child.)

Valerie of Genealogy With Valerie is correct. Sharing our own family’s slave history is important.  By sharing the names of slaves along with their locations and owners, we can help their descendants discover clues to their own family histories.

How can you share information about the slaves your family history?

As you research your family, make note of the slaves and slave owners you find. Submit this information to appropriate websites.  Two such sites are the Slave Data Collection at AfriGeneas and Our Black History.

So, fellow genealogists, let’s share what we have in our file cabinets!

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  • Wendy

    I’m glad you suggested some websites. When I started reading your blog, that was going to be my question – what do we do with this information. I will check the two websites.

    • LisaL

      Wendy, thank you for your comment! I hope you find the websites helpful. I’m looking forward to providing the names and location of my ancestors’ slaves. I am hopeful someone will find the information helpful in their research.

  • Randall T Allen

    I have slave owners in my family tree and have heard stories about some of the slaves as I growing up (this was about 100 years after the end of the Civil War). The problem I am having is that I do not know where to record the slaves. It kind of seems wrong to record them as properly. I feel that they are people and should be recorded where all people are recorded. I guess what I really want to know what is the standard place to record slaves.

    Also, I wanted to thank you for providing the two websites so I can share what I find with others to help them with their family trees.

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