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 worldcat.org 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 worldcat.org. 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.
The 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.
Another 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 Ancestry.com (2013)
**How To: Finding Slave Recordshttp://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/ghl/resources/genealogy/slaverecords.html
**Slave Records Bibliography
**Research Slavery (Ancestry.com Wiki)
**African American Records (Interactive page – Ancestry.com)
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