Share documents mentioning slave names on the Slave Name Roll Project
I previously shared information about Releasing Slave Names Found in Genealogy Research where I discussed the Slave Name Roll Project. Since that post, the project has been moved to a new home and more volunteers are helping to maintain the growing number of contribution. The website gives this information:
During Black History Month in 2015 a Facebook group of Genealogy Bloggers began the Slave Name Roll Project with five contributions. The project objective is to record information about named slaves whenever and wherever they may be found so that African-American genealogists and family historians may break through the wall that is the 1870 census. Documents such as wills and other probate records, bills of sale, court cases and newspaper advertisements for runaway slaves are often rich sources of information.
You can make a contribution easily as you find source documents in your research naming slaves. Go to the website and leave a comment including this information:
- Name of the enslaved (usually only a given name)
- Name of the slave owner
- Source of the information (will, estate inventory, court case, deed, etc.)
- Date and location of the source information
I discovered this court document giving valuable information about my ancestress, Polly Baker. I used it to prove her marriage to Samuel Cessna and probable parent, Robert Baker. What I haven’t done, as of yet, is determine what happened to the slaves mentioned: Isaac, Agg, and her daughter Hannah. I hope by publishing this information on the Slave Name Roll Project, their descendants may one day find them.
I Samuel Cessna of Greene Co. for the consideration of one negro boy named ISAAC give up all the right and title to a negro woman named AGG and her daughter HANNAH which negroes it is presumed I have held in reversion by virtue of the will of Robt. Baker Dec’d. Which negroes in said will was assigned to Polly Baker by said Robert Baker Decd. which right in reversion I do hereby relinquish for myself & my heirs etc. to Thomas Baldwin in consideration of the above negro Isaac. Signed: Saml. Cessna. Wit: James Taylor. Rec’d of Thos. Baldwin on account of his being guardian for Polly Baker now Polly Cessna full satisfaction for bonds bills debts dues & demands from the beginning of the world to this day being the 21 March 1793. signed Saml. Cessna. Wit. Jas. Taylor. Reg. 1 Aug 1793¹
Participate in The Beyond Kin Project
This website launched in February 2017 and is an exciting initiative to document and make connections with the enslaved persons in our slaveholding family records. The website explains:
Donna Cox Baker and Frazine K. Taylor conceived the Beyond Kin Project in 2016 as a way to encourage and facilitate the documentation of enslaved populations, particularly by recruiting the resources and efforts of the descendants of slaveholders.
As I read through the project, I became interested, then enthralled, then committed to also participate in the Beyond Kin Project. Donna and Frazine have developed a way to link black and white families using existing genealogy software. Donna explains:
As Frazine and I talked about how to make this work, we knew that there needed to be a technology component, if this is to be truly effective to large numbers of us. We needed a way to link black families and white together in our genealogy tools, reflecting the interconnected lives they lived. Our hope is that the genealogy software companies that support our work will come up with a permanent way to do this, but we have developed an interim solution that should work with most existing genealogy software programs and online trees. We do not have to wait for the years that software development might take.
Beyond Kin uses existing genealogy software such as FamilySearch and Ancestry.com to create links between slaveholders and enslaved persons, beginning with the slaveholders record, then working outward. The website details exactly how to do this in a way that is creative and functional. You can also register your names and documents in the Enslaved Population Research Directory, part of The Beyond Kin Project. Here is my entry for the deed above.
What if you don’t have slaveholding ancestors? Can you still make a contribution? Beyond Kin gives these suggestions:
Adopt a situation near you, so you can do the most exhaustive possible research and be of help to those at a distance.
Consider adopting an institution, rather than a family–tapping a much understudied population. Choose an industry, hospital, or university in your area of choice.
If you live in a former slave state, find a slaveholding (SH) family or institution that records their enslaved persons (EPs) around 1850 or 1860, so that you can match the EPs with African Americans who took last names after they were emancipated.
Join me in doing something to make a difference. Participate in the Slave Name Roll Project or the Beyond Kin Project. I’m ready for the journey, are you?
¹ Silas Emmett Lucas compiler, Some Georgia County Records Volume 2, p. 236, (Easley, South Carolina : Southern Historical Press, 1977), Samuel Cessna deed to Thomas Baldwin, 21 March 1793 ; citing Greene County, Georgia, Deed Book E p. 736 (Abstract).