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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

"Ownership" of and access to slave data /records

Hi folks - need your thoughts and comments on this.

Last year Lloyd Smith sent me a copy an interesting list - of freed slave data - from the day of their emancipation from a plantation.

His ancestor(s) and possibly some of mine are on this list.

This manuscript is part of a University libray collection - with copywright warnings stamped on each page - permission to cite/reproduce etc. is required from the library.

I paid a visit to the libraries pages recently - and saw the fees they charge per document. I then contacted the head archivist directly by phone with a follow-up request via email for permission to post the list - transcribed - to the internet - for FREE access.

I am waiting for a response.

Before taking any further action, I will wait for a response as I realize it may take them a few days to even figure out where this document is in their stockpile of plantation records and letters.

But it got me to thinking - and I guess I have a sense of outrage and violation - not only were our ancestors enslaved - but many of their records are locked up too - behind academic and copyright walls.

Many libraries and museums freely display photos and documents from the slave period - particularly around black history month - but what efforts are they making to find the real owners of these records - the descendants?

I guess I'm just tired of pictures of "unidentified slaves" etc. being used to promote shows and exhibits (pay to enter- pay to join the museum or society etc) - with no funding going into researching what happened to them - or who they were.

How dare we be denied the right to share this important data with seekers of our history?

This reminds me of the battle fought by the American Indian Movement to have bones and other grave items returned to the places they were robbed from by archeologists at the Smithsonian in DC (where they were languishing in dusty boxes).

If I am refused the right to publish - distribute - this information FREELY - I plan to take further action. But it got me to thinking - how many of you have had the same reaction or run up against the same restrictions? What can we do collectively to fight for "freedom of information" for us all?

Jes my 25 cents.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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