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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Registry for free persons of color?

I doubt Ancestry.com has any databases of registers of FPOC yet. The most you'll be able to access are indirect references for example, in Paul Heinegg's publications. But those references are limited to the records of states that he researched.

I don't think anyone has done a comprehensive publication on free registers by state. I think only southern states had such registers. Furthermore, there was no common form or unified manner in which the registers were recorded or kept throughout all of the states. In some areas, there were special volumes created to record such entries. In other areas, the court filed single or multiple entries amongst court order books, deed books, or in loose/miscellaneous papers.

A number of individual publications have been published in Virginia and North Carolina. They range in form from small entries in genealogical or historical society newsletters, to genealogical journals, to books. I know that at least a dozen or so free registers have been pulished in Virginia and North Carolina. However, having said that, there isn't a comprehensive survey of what exists, or what SHOULD exist amongst these registers for all states. (hint, hint....a project for someone to do...)

In some cases, the original records were lost or destroyed. I've been working on a project for several years of identifying registers of free people in Norfolk, VA. The city once had two volumes of registers, but they were lost or destroyed. I've been combing court records for any and all references/entries relating to people being registered. Many of these references are on tiny scraps of paper. A majority of thos that survive in the Norfolk courthouse, are of people who migrated from other areas to Norfolk. Thus those born and raised in Norfolk, who also registered in Norfolk, aren't represented in large numbers amongst the surviving registers. I've been slowing searching through records in other counties to find examples of Norfolk-generated free registers.

One would have to search in the court records for these registers. And for Ancestry.com to have them in a database, well someone would have to abstract/transcribe them. The Mormons are the only group that I can think of, that has an extensive collection of microfilmed court records. With the rate at which they are digitizing and indexing their microfilm collection, it may not be too long before you will be able to search such free registers in a database.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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