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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: manumission notes posted - Some matches located

You have done Herculean work to create the list of registrants for Norfolk. Petersburg, according to the Library of Virginia listing of microfilm, has registration books that span 1794 to 1865. We have worked only in the first one, 1794-1819. It is unique for any urban place in Virginia, I believe, in that it starts as soon as registrations were required. In addition, rather than repeating the names of individuals when they re-register, the clerk noted in the book the subsequent dates of re-registration, at least in the 1794-1819 volume. There are a few duplications but roughly 950 individuals appear in this first book. My sense is that the wave of post-Revolution, ie 1782 manumissions was largely spent by the 1790's, but did not really get going in Virginia towns until then, including Petersburg. The 1806 law requiring the newly freed to leave the state within a year brought a new wave of urban manumissions, at least, with 15% of urban manumissions before 1810 occuring between January and May 1806 when the law went into effect. The requirement for registration remained in place and hence many registrations would have continued to be made even as emancipations declined. We are in the process of annotating the Petersburg 1794-1819 register and doing an historical analysis of the "first generation" of free persons of color in the town. The pioneer historian in all this is Luther Porter Jackson.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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