Archive for the ‘Enslaved Population’ Category

April 1: Slave Surnames in Jefferson’s Virginia

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

This talk is being held at Monticello during our regularly scheduled CVHR meeting so instead of holding a separate meeting, please join us at this public talk. Below is the description from Monticello. Please note they are asking folks to RSVP for the talk (see the link below). Also note that a pre-talk reception begins at 3:30.

Cassandra Pybus, professor of history at the University of Sydney, will give a talk, entitled “Calling Himself William Lee”: The Meanings of Slave Surnames in Jefferson’s Virginia, on the reluctance of slave owners such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to acknowledge or record the surnames of enslaved workers. The stance of these “enlightened” owners implies there was something novel about enslaved people having surnames. Pybus argues that the use of surnames was widespread among the enslaved of Virginia by the second half of the 18th century. By interrogating the unique dataset available for about 1,000 enslaved people from Virginia listed with surnames in the Book of Negroes in 1783, it is possible to tease out the importance of surnames; the ways in which surnames were chosen; how surnames were deployed; and why slave masters would choose to ignore them. Reception at 3:30. The talk begins at 4 p.m. at Monticello’s Jefferson Library. The talk—offered as part of the ICJS Distinguished Lecture Series—is free, but space is limited. Please e-mail to register.


Sunday, November 15th, 2009

This post was written by Shelley Murphy and consists of her notes from Tony Burroughs’s talk on Contrabands at the International Black Genealogy Summit, Oct 29, 2009, Allen County Library, Ft. Wayne Indiana.

Tony Burrough’s began with a brief history of how the contrabands began. He references “24 May 1861, and Major General Benjamin F. Butler the Fortress Monroe incident where Butler refused to return three fugitive slaves to their Virginia slave owners, because they would be working for the Confederates, building fortifications against Union forces. Butler decided the slaves were contraband of war and put them to work for the Union Army.”

Burrough’s suggested that researchers learn about the history of Contrabands, understanding that there were East and Gulf Coast camps. Learn about the Military command structure and check out any maps that are available.

Check the 1864 Census-US Army Continental, contrabands newly freed slaves, records list former slave owners.

Check Civil War records, realize the Navy has separate records

“By 1865 there were approximately one million blacks-a quarter of the 1860 slave population-lived within Union lines and more than two hundred thousand (in addition to an equal number of black soldiers) lived and labored under direct U. S. Army control.” (Louis S. Gerteis, “Contraband Camps” in Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery).

There are payroll records-soldiers did construction work for the Union-

Contrabands joined military troops/units like the 55th MA; some records are with Freedmen bureau records. Other records can be located at the NARA:

Quartermaster General Records

Adjutant General Office

Freedmen’s Bureau (almost totally available online, searchable)

Missionary Societies

Reference 92 Quarter Master Persons & Articles Hired

Reference 94 Adjuntant –inventory records

10 Freedmen’s Bureau- camp info is mixed in

There are numerous articles and books to check out, such as: Ira Berlin “Freedom Documents of Emancipation (how enslaved people emancipated themselves (1861-1867)

Morton, Richard L. “Contrabands and Quakers in the Virginia Peninsula, 1862-1869” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 61 (1953); 419-429