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And Her Increase

And Her Increase

Nothing hits me harder than these three words. Some version of this phrase is often found in the wills of enslavers, designed to give away children who were not even yet conceived. Enslaved women’s wombs enriched generations of enslavers, both giving life and bringing death in so many ways. It’s a concept that still haunts […]

Examining Slaves in Inventories

Examining Slaves in Inventories

Inventories are one of the key documents researchers use as evidence to support their assertion of slaveownership. Before 1865, a slaveholder’s estate inventory includes their enslaved property. They vary in the information that they provide, but remain an important source for those researching African Americans. What is an Inventory? The inventory is a report of […]

Never Rely On Just the Census

Never Rely On Just the Census

  Ah, the census. The glorious census. It’s such an important document in genealogy, I would venture to say even a foundational document. But its flaws are many. Those who rely on only the census to reconstruct their ancestral families do so at the risk of recreating a family inaccurately. Take for example the case of my ancestor […]

Marriage Records: Look Out for Multiple ...

Marriage Records: Look Out for Multiple Marriages

Marriage records are a foundational record for genealogists. I have discussed many times  how finding a female ancestor’s new married name led to breakthroughs. Most of us automatically think of that when we suddenly “lose” woman. What hasn’t come naturally for me yet is anticipating multiple marriages. Maybe two marriages is the maximum my mind […]

Estate Inventories: Peek Into Their Live...

Estate Inventories: Peek Into Their Lives

For those doing African-American research, antebellum estate inventories are commonly used to find enslaved ancestors. But all genealogists should make it a regular practice to examine all the items in an inventory. This practice will help us understand our ancestor’s day-to-day lives. Scrutinizing inventories can provide many interesting little details to make a written family […]

 
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