AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum Archive
In Response To: Library@AfriGeneas ()
ENSLAVED ANCESTORS ABSTRACTED FROM
Genealogical research on slave ancestors is made difficult by the prevailing pre-1865 practice of using only the given names of slaves when speaking or writing about them. These names, occasionally accompanied by their ages, were written in the wills and estate inventories of the slaveholder. Considered personal property, they were enumerated in all census records, and in 1850 and 1860 special slave schedules were constructed for their nameless enumeration. From the middle of the 18th century until the early 1800s, the given names of slaves were written on some of the tax lists of the slaveholders, but this was not done for all tax lists, nor by all enumerators. By the early 19th century this random, hit-or-miss practice was generally discontinued. For the slave holding record keepers, slaves became numbers, and combined with counting the acres of land owned, determined the amount of taxes to be paid.