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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 […]

Slave Mortgages

Slave Mortgages

Human collateral provided much of the capital for slaveholders to purchase more land and more slaves. This, in addition to enslaved people’s free labor, created much of the 18th century wealth that US growth and development depended upon. Edward Baptist elucidates how slavery drove capitalism in his book, The Half has Never Been Told: Slavery […]

About That Mulatto…

About That Mulatto…

We cannot assume that anyone marked “mulatto” in a census record had one white parent and one black parent. I have previously discussed that genealogists should know some of the instructions provided to enumerators, and that the changing definitions of race, since it is a social and not a biological construct, should tell us something. […]

Finding Sharecroppers in Deeds

Finding Sharecroppers in Deeds

As genealogists, it’s difficult to research people who were poor and marginalized. The lives of wealthier and more prominent people simply created more records. I’ve had many people say to me that they haven’t researched deed records because their ancestors did not own any land. However, in many cases, the types of agreements that sharecroppers […]

Freedmens Bureau Narrative Reports

Freedmens Bureau Narrative Reports

Want to know a great way to find out about the lives of your enslaved ancestors after the end of the War? The narrative reports of the Freedmens Bureau. I have discussed the Bureau records numerous times in this blog. They are a critical resource for the tumultuous five years between 1865 and 1870. Genealogists […]

 
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