Resource: The 1850 Census of Georgia Slave Owners by Jack F. Cox

Like many people tracing African American genealogy, I have hit the infamous 1870 brick wall with several of my lines on both my maternal and paternal side.  Since I’ve been working as an archivist, I have attempted to increase my knowledge of resources available not only for Georgia researchers but also tips and tricks for anyone researching African American genealogy.

One great thing about working in an archives or library as I mentioned in a previous blog post is the ability to browse the shelves.  Though automated catalog systems can pull items up in a blink of the eye, you first have to have an idea of what you would like to find.  On the other hand, browsing the shelves allows you to take a look at an institution’s holdings while at the same time getting in your steps (smile).  There are some library software packages that allow you to virtually browse the shelves but nothing beats the ability to pull the book off the shelf and flip through its pages.

Then there are times when the books come to you.  While working in libraries, I enjoyed checking in materials.  This was another way I learned what the library had to offer, just by seeing what materials people were returning. The same can be said about archives, though the way you discover the books there are on the reshelving carts or new book carts.

One such discovery for me was The 1850 Census of Georgia Slave Owners by Jack F. Cox.

1850 Census Georgia Slave Owners23

Published in 1999, Mr. Cox created an index of individuals owning slaves in the 93 counties in Georgia that existed in that time.*  Using microfilm reels for the 1850 Census from Lake Blackshear Regional Library in Americus and Washington Memorial Library in Macon, he, with assistance from his wife and son, was able to compile this list of names to create the 348 page book.* (Note:  The links for the libraries will take you to their respective genealogy / local history room pages.)

Mr. Cox recorded the information that he saw though he includes a disclaimer regarding the ability to decipher the records.  He stated “[a]s is common in old documents, some of the handwriting is very readable, some very difficult to decipher, and some impossible to read.”*  Even with this warning, this is a good resource to consultant if you are trying to determine the possible owners of enslaved individuals in 1850.

The book is organized by surname in double columns on the pages.  Each slave owner has a listing of the number of enslaved individuals owned at the time of the 1850 census.  At first glance, this may not seem useful, especially since its not organized by county but with the surname organization, one is able to find any slave owners in 1850 regardless of county by the surname.  Its advised to use this book in conjunction with the 1850 slave schedule to see if there are any enslaved individuals who are about the age of the ancestor you are researching.

So now that you know a little about the book, where can you find it?  Using, I was able to find copies.  I also searched, the Georgia PINES Consortium and was able to find not only this book but several others on slave owners in Georgia.  Hopefully this will be a useful resource for you.

Happy hunting!!


Genealogy in Unlikely Places – Georgia Official and Statistical Register

The search for genealogical information about individuals usually includes reviewing census, military, and vital records among other things. We look for genealogical information in county histories, newspapers, cemeteries, city directories, and other resources.

There are times, however, when genealogy related information will show up in an unlikely place. Today, that unlikely place is the Georgia Official and Statistical Register. As I was working to answer a reference question, a colleague shared with me the Georgia Official and Statistical Register. Once the question was answered, I began to thumb through it and read some of the biographical sketches that were listed for the individuals featured in the book only to find that there is information about the person’s family!! Now grant it, most of the individuals contained within the Register are public officials and some of that information can be located with a simple Google search. As with anything genealogy related, you start with what you know and work backwards so I started with the 1989-90 edition of the Register and jumped to a copy of the 1977-78 edition (only because it was at my desk). I found that the 1977-78 edition contained much more genealogical information that the 1989-90 Register! (Can you tell that I’m excited?)

Take for instance this entry on Grace Towns Hamilton. Play close attention to the section labelled family details.
Grace Towns Hamilton pg 1Grace Towns Hamilton pg 2

Though its true that a search of Mrs. Hamilton may yield some of this information but the question is, would you find the other details about her family without in-depth research? I mean you have her marriage date, the life dates of her father and mother, her mother’s maiden name as well s the life dates of her grandparents, including the maiden names of the women.  We know that as a rule, found information has to be confirmed by other sources before its accepted as truth, but truthfully, this is information that you probably will not be able to find.  Just looking at the information about Luke Towns, you can trace his migration from Talbot County to Dougherty County to Duval County Florida.  Those are clues that can help connect those genealogical dots!

But what about a lesser known public figure?  Take for instance Mrs. Mildred Williams Glover.   A simple Google search did not reveal much about her other than her working in Baltimore and obituaries about her passing.  No where on that Her profile would be considered genealogy gold due to the fact that her family details section includes information on 4 generations, herself, her children, her parents, and her grandparents.

Mildred Williams Glover

And the icing on the cake?  The photographs!! (Not all of the Registers contain photographs though but they have the information.) Although the 1923 Register does not offer the biographical information for individuals, the 1925 edition does.

Have I piqued your interest in the Registers?  Want to take a look for yourself?  Well, thanks to the staff at the Digital Library of Georgia,  you are able to do so from the comfort of your home or wherever you have internet access.  The full run of the Registers have been digitized and made available to the public.  You can find them here –  I hope that this resource will be useful.  Happy hunting!!

Browsing the Stacks

I’m not sure about you but one of the things I enjoy doing is going to different repositories and browsing their stacks.  Be it a public library, an archives, or a research room, I enjoy walking down the aisles to see what resources they offer.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to go behind the scenes of several repositories due to school assignments, volunteer work, and behind the scene tours.  Currently, I’m volunteering at the Atlanta History Center (AHC).  Being a native of Georgia and Atlanta born and raised, I know that the AHC will probably have some resources that will help me in my research journey.

Today, I decided to take advantage of the slow day to browse the stacks.  The layout of the Research Room can be bit a daunting at first and I have to admit, I still haven’t figured out most of it, but there is a Genealogy room where many of the genealogy related materials can be found. It was in there (after locating a book in another part of the collection), that I did my browsing.

The collections at the AHC are organized by Library of Congress Call Numbers.  This means for the most part that all of the call numbers begin with letters as oppose to the Dewey Decimal call numbers used usually in public libraries, which begin with numbers.

As a user of libraries that use both call number schemes, I’ve memorized the sections of the items that I typically find interesting. In Library of Congress call numbers, its the E185 section which is where you will find African American History. This isn’t the only place but its a great starting point. The same goes with Dewey Decimal – 929 is the genealogy section which is where you would find most of your genealogy how to books.

So with that in mind, I headed straight for the E185 section and was pleasantly surprised.

Book Part 1


Book Part 2

This is a picture of some of the titles in the E185 section in the Genealogy Room.  They are leaning because I took a few of the books out for a closer look.

Like the 4 volume set of Georgia Free Persons of Color by Michael A. Ports.

Ga Free People of Color

The book Lay Down Body by Roberta Hughes Wright and others.

lay down body A A Cemeteries

What about Black Marriage Records Hart County

Black Marriages Hart County


And last but definitely not least, An index of African Americans in the Freedmen’s Bureau.

Index of African America Freedmans Bureau


That’s it for now.  I hope you enjoyed the post. Happy researching!!


Finding Alabaster Alley

In my blog post entitled Resource: Atlanta History Journal (Atlanta History Center) I talked about a quandary I had in relation to the location of where my 2nd great grandmother, Maggie Calloway lived with her 2nd husband, Foster Calloway.  In a quick recap, I discovered in the 1923 Atlanta City Directory a listing for Foster Calloway, listing his place of residence at h1 Alabaster Alley.  Although the Street Directory listed Piedmont as an intersecting street, but the question was, where exactly was the street located.

As mentioned in the previous post, I located an article in the Atlanta History Journal database on the Atlanta History Center’s website that gave me more clues as to the exact location of the “street”. On page 30 of the article, the author wrote “Running west from Piedmont Avenue between Baker Street and Forrest Avenue is a street on which there was once a small asbestos mine. The street was named Asbestos Street. It was change to Alabaster Alley; probably an ironical reference to the color of its residents.”

Though the last sentence can be taken as a slight to the residents living on the street, it provides a clue to the race of the people living there.  That statement aside, I have the name of two streets, narrowing the area of where the “street” is located.

Now what?

Well, in preparation for a webinar, I learned through the Digital Public Library of America that Georgia State University has digitize maps of the City of Atlanta Neighborhoods. These maps have the City divided up into different “planning units”. First, I had to determine what “planning unit” included the area of Piedmont Avenue I was looking for. This is the image of map. Click the map to visit the webpage.


After some trial and era (looking at other maps), I figured out that the area I was looking for was in the Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) M.


Here’s a copy of the map with the area highlighted with a Red Circle.

City_of_Atlanta_NPU_M_Neighborhoods Cropped with Circle2

Hopefully you are still with me.  Before I remembered the Georgia State Maps, I did a Google Map search for Forrest Avenue and could not find the street in relation to Piedmont Ave. Luckily for me, I was able to locate the map which told me what I needed to know.

Over time, things change, including the names of streets, which was the case in this situation.  Using a nifty tool on the Georgia State University’s site for the Map, it allowed me to overlay the old map with a current map.  Using the opacity tool on the left, you can see the new through the old, to determine where the location is using today’s maps.  The pictures below illustrate the steps I took.


City_of_Atlanta_NPU_M_Neighborhoods Google Overlap1

City_of_Atlanta_NPU_M_Neighborhoods Google Overlap2

I’m not sure if the image is clear enough but the name of Forrest Ave changed to Ralph McGill Blvd. I know the Atlanta Civic Center should have been a clue but when you are focused on one particular thing, you block out everything else.

This post is the result of several years of wondering and discovering different tools as I went along.  Remember to take advantage of opportunities to learn about resources for Genealogy as they come because you never know when one might help you break down a brick wall like I did.

Happy Hunting!!


My Uncle Stanley Part 1

Yesterday, after running errands, my mother and I, along with my nephew, visited Southview Cemetery in Atlanta, Fulton. Georgia. Southview is the resting place for many of my family members. This being the case, since we were there, my mother and I took my nephew to the resting places for his great grandfather Henry Maddox, his great great grandmother Bessie Padgett Blake and his grand uncle Stanley Maddox. As we traveled over the grounds, my mother shared with him the names of other relatives who are buried there.

After we left, I couldn’t help but think there’s nothing like a visit to the cemetery to reignite the desire to do genealogy. I know others would argue and a say there were others ways to relight that interest in genealogy, but for me at this moment, it was this happenstance visit to the cemetery.

My uncle Stanley as his tombstone says, passed away on May 27, 1970. My mother remarked that his death day is a day after my sister’s birthday (she was born 13 years later). That’s definitely one way to cement a date in one’s mind, to relate it to a current event.

Since that visit, I haven’t been able to get my uncle off my mind. He was the oldest of my grandmother Maggie’s children with her second husband, Henry Charles.  He died at the age of 15 due to a form of leukemia.  He was a student in the Atlanta Public School System. I have a copy of his funeral program, a picture of his tombstone, possibly a copy of his obituary and a birth register. This is the extent of my knowledge of him.

Since this is the case and it seems that he has a hold on me, my goal for the next few blog posts is to examine the information I have for him and to create a research plan to find more information about him. Will you join me on this journey? I hope so. Thanks for reading and happy hunting!

Resource: Atlanta History Journal (Atlanta History Center)

Happy New Year!! I’m going to start the year off right and start blogging again.  I’m not making any promises other than I hope to post more than one in a year!

To kick it off, I wanted to share about an experience I had recently in looking for information about a street, really an Alley where one of my ancestors lived.  My 2nd great grandmother Maggie Calloway married Foster Calloway after being married to Albert Padgett.  In the early 1920s, the family moved from Morgan County to Atlanta. The earliest City Directory I found them listed was the 1923 edition. If its true that information contained for individuals in City Directories was collected the previous year, that would mean that my ancestors arrived roughly in 1922.

There is an entry for both Foster and Maggie Calloway in the 1923 Atlanta City Directory on page 322 in the print version (page 164 in the electronic version on  Foster’s address was listed as h1 Alabaster Alley.  When using the City Directories, its advised that you also look up your ancestor’s address in the Street Directory in the back of the book. This helps to identify the neighbors who could also be relatives.  This has been the case in several situations for my family so I recommend you spend the extra few minutes to look at the Street Directory.

So here is the quandary, where was Alabaster Alley? The 1923 Atlanta City Directory’s Street Directory only lists the name of the ‘street’ and its position to an extent to Piedmont Ave but where is it exactly?  I looked at a few resources but I wasn’t able find the answer.

I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with the Atlanta History Journal?  Bear with me, I’m getting there.

Recently, I visited the Atlanta History Center for an assignment and had to spend some time researching the institution.  As an Atlanta native, I know this institution is one that could possibly help me with my family research.  With that in mind, I came across the link to the Atlanta History Journal. So I thought, why not check to see if there is a mention of Alabaster Alley.  I was ecstatic to say the least when I got a hit. It was mentioned in an article in the April 1931 no. 5 edition of the Atlanta Historical Bulletin (the name of the Journal changed several times over the course of its publication).

The 10 page article entitled “Queer Place Names in Old Atlanta” by Eugene M. Mitchell included a paragraph that provided a quick history of the area where the alley was found and the name change it underwent. He also included a quip about the irony of the name of the street with reference to its residents.  The article also includes mention of other “queer” named locales including Beaver Slide, Snake Nation, Sandtown, Rough and Ready and Tight Squeeze.

In closing, (hopefully you’re still reading this), if you have ancestors who lived or spent time in Atlanta, the Atlanta History Center is an institution you should add to your to visit list and check out their online collections which can be found here –  You won’t know what you can find, until you look!

Happy hunting!!

My Preferred Coloring Sheets

Right now, adult coloring is all of the rave.  Though I am intrigued by the coloring sheets and books that are flooding the market, I prefer sheets that are a bit older.

I’m in the middle of “processing” some recently printed documents related to the Swinger Family Line I’m tracing.  For some reason, this line has caught my eye and attention and is demanding my time so how am I to go against it.

So instead of working on my mother’s maternal line for the Genealogy Do-Over, I’m doing a new line and am trying to apply some of the strategies to this line as I go.

What does any of this have to do with coloring? Well, when I print off records like the Census, Obituaries, Tax Form, or even Georgia Convict records (I have a few of them too), I like to highlight (color) the section of the document that is relevant to the family line.  I use the tried and true yellow highlighter, preferably a Sharpie that doesn’t smear the ink.  I like the wide highlighters for the larger sections and the smaller highlighters for the smaller one.

So all that to say, color on and highlight the areas of those documents to make the information pop on the page!!

Happy Researching!

Resource: New Georgia Encyclopedia

NGEHi all. I’ve come across several resources recently that I want to make you aware of including the New Georgia Encyclopedia (NGE).

According to its about page, the NGE recently underwent a redesign and as a user who used it prior to the new look, I’m looking forward to exploring it.  Originally launched in 2004, the NGE now offers more than 2,000 articles and 6,000 images on Georgia History and Culture.

So why showcase it as a resource?  Well, if you’re researching Georgia, its another resource to check for information about the places where your Georgia ancestors may have lived, worked, and/or traveled.

Also, check out the Georgia Web Resources tab near the top.  It includes an interesting list of links of resources, some of which you may know and others that may be new to you like they are to me.  Definitely going back to check those out.

Need a quick refresher on your Georgia state stats?  Check out the Quick Facts tab that includes demographic information about our illustrious state as well as the state symbols, including the bird, flower, and song. Check out the picture of Ray Charles, ya’ll!!

The Topics area contains subject area links and of course, I choose History and Archaeology.  From there, a menu opens with various time periods in history.  Whatever time in Georgia history you’re interested in, there’s an entry in NGE.

Interested in an overview of Slavery in Antebellum Georgia?  There’s an article on that.  Want to learn more about Slave Women?  There’s an article on that.  Interested in learing about Black Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement?  There’s a Special Collection on that.  So as you can see, there’s much to see on NGE.

Need more convincing, well here’s a short case study.  In working on a friend’s genealogy, I checked the information about the county where many of her ancestors are from.  In reviewing the article, many of the locations that have shown up in the records for her ancestors were mentioned as were a few of the large landowners who also share the same surname.  Could they possible be the former slaveowner?  I’m not sure but I’m definitely going to add a copy of the article to her family’s research materials.  Who knows, the NGE may have helped me to identify the last slaveowner for once portion of her family tree.

So add NGE as another stone to turn in the search of your Georgia ancestors.


Happy Hunting!!!

Discovering Your Enslaved Ancestors – Some Links

The topic of discussion for the Wesley Chapel Genealogy Group’s May meeting is Finding the Slaveowner. In preparation of the meeting, I conducted a Google search using the terms “Slave Research” and came across several resources that looked promising.

However, after closer review, I found the Quick Guide to African American Records on the FamilySearch Wiki to be one that answered the question I’ve had for a very long time. Most resources jump from freedom to slavery but in my experience, the resources I consulted have not provided detailed suggestions on how to go about finding the owner of enslaved ancestors. The Quick Guide to African American Records entry in the Family Search Wiki does just that. It not only gives suggested steps, it also provides a list of resources to consult. Additionally, it includes a link to the online version of the Family History Library Bibliography of African American Sources. The Family History Library in Salt Lake, Utah is the largest genealogical repository in the world. That being the case, I’m sure that a bibliography of sources available in their collection as of 1994 related to African Americans is definitely something to look at.

And it was. The online version is about 422 pages and though I’ve only glanced at it, I’m definitely going to check out their listings for the states I’m researching. You should do so too.

**Side Note — If you find a title that you would like to look at, use to find the nearest repository that has a copy of the book. If there isn’t a library/archives nearby, search your local library’s, state archives, etc. catalog to double check because there are a number of research repositories who do not include their catalogs in If the book really isn’t there, check with your local library to inquiry about getting the book through InterLibrary Loan. **

Now, jumping back on topic!!

As I continued preparing for the night’s discussion, in addition to the links below, I pulled out several genealogy books related to African American research to see what information they contained about the topic. I mentioned several of them in my previous post – Researching Slave Ancestry. Here are a few more.

African American SourcebookThe African American Genealogical Sourcebook by Paula Byers may be located in the Reference section of your local library. Contained within it is a great deal of information related to researching African American ancestors. Specifically on the topic of enslaved ancestors, this book has several sections that discusses researching them, including “Sources of Slaves” (pg. 5 – 6) which mentioned the percentages of the enslaved population that hailed from various locations on the African Continent. Additional topics such as “Slave Naming Practices” and an extensive section about Slave Oral History written by none other than Tony Burroughs. Also, included in the discussions of Census Records (pg. 19) and Court Records (pg. 25), are tips and suggestions about how to go about using those record types for researching enslaved people.

Finding A PlaceAnother book I totally slept on (and am not afraid to admit it) is Finding A Place Called Home: A Guide to African-American Genealogy and Historical Identity by Dee Parmer Woodtor. This book offers several chapters about research slave ancestors including ones entitled “A Long Way to Freedom: The Genealogy of Your Slave Ancestor” (Chap. 9) and “The Last Slave and The Last Slave Owner” (Chap. 10). Said to the bible of African American genealogy, if you have not taken a look at this book, make sure to do so by either visiting your local library or purchasing a copy of the book for your personal library.

I think is more than enough to help get you started on your search for your possibly enslaved ancestors or maybe some tips to help you make that connection. Below as promised are a few more links. I hope this blog has been helpful. Happy Hunting!!

**10 Great Databases for Slavery Research

**Researching Slave Ancestry (Blog post)

**RootsWeb’s Guide to Tracing Family Trees (Ethnic Groups)

**How Do I Trace My Slave Ancestors?
(Site promotes professional genealogists services but the information provided can be useful)

**Lost Slave Ancestors Found

**African American Family Research on (2013)

**How To: Finding Slave Records

**Slave Records Bibliography

**Research Slavery ( Wiki)

**African American Records (Interactive page –

Couldn’t talk about Slave Research without mentioning Slave Narratives.

**Voices from the Days of Slavery: Stories, Songs and Memories

**Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 – 1938

** North American Slave Narratives

Freedmen’s Bureau Records

The Freedmen’s Bureau records are getting much attention today with partnerships forming to digitize and make the records available online. Also, others are working to create sites dedicated to mapping the offices of Bureau so people can see if there was an office near the home of their ancestors.


*~*~*~*~*Digital Collections and Transcriptions*~*~*~*~* is involved and some records have been digitized and are available on their site.  All of the collections may not be searchable (yet) but you can browse the images.

Here are the steps to get to the Freedmen Records on

1. Goto

2. Click Search.

3. Under the blue search box, click Browse All Published Collections.

4.  In the Filter box, type in Freedmen to see a list of the collections.

At the posting of this blog post, there were 13 collections, including records from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, DC, Maryland, Delaware, and Texas.

There are other sites such as the Freedmen’s Bureau Website have transcriptions of some documents from this record set.


*~*~*~*~*Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau*~*~*~*~*

If you want to see if there was an Freedmen’s Bureau office near the place where your ancestors lived, there are a few resources in development to help you with that. One website will launch later this year but here’s one that’s available now –


*~*~*~*~*Other resources are listed below*~*~*~*~* – U.S., Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878

Family Search Wiki – African American Freedmen’s Bureau Records –

Freedmen’s Bank Records – HeritageQuest (through GALILEO)
**You will need a library card with a Georgia Public Library to access it.

The Freedmen’s Bureau Records – Research Your Southern Ancestors (Article)
**Contains information about the Freedmen’s Bureau.

The Freedmen’s Bureau Website

Index to Mississippi Freedmen’s Bureau Records (Mississippi Archives)

Freedmens Bureau brochure-thumbnail

National Archives Freedmen’s Bureau Website
Site includes a link to the pdf version of a brouchure about the collection.



Hope this helps with your research efforts.  Happy hunting!!!