The Importance of Sharing the Slave History from your Family Trees.

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About a month ago I joined a Black Ancestry Group on Facebook. You may think this is an odd thing to do considering I am not Black. I did it for a specific reason, to ask a question that had been plaguing me for a long time.  The following is the question that I finally asked about 5 days ago.

“I have had this question rolling around in my head for several years but didn’t know who I could ask about it. I have been afraid it may offend people but I have read some posts on here so I feel comfortable asking. Let me preference it with this: Unfortunately I have several slave owners in my family tree, some dating back into the late 1600’s. I have some wills that give names and locations. Would it help others if we were able to list those names and locations on our trees so their family could find them? If this were possible what would be the correct way of doing this? Thank you in advance for your answers.”

I was hoping for a little direction or maybe a few ideas as to how to share this information in a way that would benefit those who would need it. I was overwhelmed with the numerous responses I received! Here are a few of them:

“Valerie Hughes, bless you for wanting to do this….and for overcoming your fear History IS what it IS, and we’re all in it, no matter how we got here. It’s highly refreshing to have come across you, and your willingness to share your information with those that can benefit. Hey, Black folks just wanna KNOW some stuff, and for those of us who do, MUCH THANKS to you.”

” I haven’t begun to find a slave master for my ancestors so I say list the information and thank you, Valerie Hughes for your forward thinking. “

“You are a blessing to so many looking for slave families. I wish ALL descendants of slaves would make the wills available. Thank you Valerie Hughes!!”

I was so incredibly humbled by the excitement and encouragement I received. I started thinking how can I help to pass this along so that others can also share what ‘slave owner/slave’ information that they may have?

A couple of the group members gave me websites so I could add the information I found on the wills, Estate Records and the 1850 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedules that I had to them. I have submitted 3 family records so far and I will be adding more as I am able. Then I started thinking, what else could be done? Surely I am not the only one with this vital information. I know how I feel when I come upon a brick wall in my family and I also know how I feel when I am able to break through that wall and find the information I desperately needed. It is the best feeling in the world and I think everyone should have a chance at experiencing it. So here is what I can up with:

#1) As you go through your family trees or your documents take the time to copy any ‘slave owner/slave’ information that you find. This can include any oral histories you may have.

#2) Submit them to the appropriate websites. (I will post the 2 that I have at the end of this blog)

#3) Tell others about doing this. Paying it forward is always a good thing!

#4) Contact Ancestry and Family Search and encourage them to develop a way of adding this information to our trees in a way that can be searchable.

I want to encourage everyone who reads this to take the time to do these things because in doing so we can enrich the lives of others who are also searching for their Family History!

AfriGeneas ~ Slave Data Collection

www.afrigeneas.com

OBA Shared Legacies – Cifreo

www.ourblackancestry.com

 

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39 Comments

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39 responses to “The Importance of Sharing the Slave History from your Family Trees.

  1. Thank you so much for sharing and telling others to share. I hope they take you up on it. Maybe it should had been a challenge.

  2. Sharon Leslie Morgan

    Blessings to you Valerie…. You are shining a light for others to follow into the darkness from which we all want to heal.

  3. Thank You for your Honesty and being Upright about this sensitive subject. We simply just want to know. We have so many challenges getting this information. I even stated to people the Will & Appraisement Record to my Tree. A lot of what I ran into in SlaveOwning Family. They have this Biographical Written History account in their Counties and leave the Slavery part out. I hope Ancestry and FamilySearch do have a link where we can find these resources. It’s time we get beyond the hurt and shame and let African Americans heal properly. It’s all about the knowing and getting answers that are there, they are just hidden. Thanks again for this piece.

  4. This post is so refreshing! Thank you for stepping out and encouraging others to do the same. Just as True mentioned, we just want to know about our ancestors and this is will help privide a way for us to trace them and truly begin to heal. Thank you again. Many blessings to you!

    ~AmyC.

  5. Kathy

    I totally agree and will be checking out the links you posted. I have recently begun putting a symbol by the name of any slave owners I have run across in my family tree. I hope it helps.

  6. gjohns

    Valerie, thank you for reaching out, taking the steps to share your found
    information with others. Hoping this will be fruitful to other researchers, with our challenges re African American and Enslaved research. We are very fortunate for your time and commitment.
    GJohns

  7. Delores Summons

    Valerie….I thank you for sharing this vital information!

  8. RootsGenie

    Valerie,
    I just want to applaud you again for stepping out of your comfort zone and following through on your promise (I also gave you a huge shout out on your Facebook post). Hopefully others can now understand that it may be difficult at first, but there is so much everyone can gain from sharing this information. I also discussed this topic on my guest blog last month, so I am so happy to see the collaboration moving forward!

  9. Valerie, I already thanked you on Facebook, but I just HAVE to say it, again! THANK YOU! I can only hope and pray that more descendants of slave owners will so openly share the documents and/or pictures that they have. Please continue to spread the word about how very helpful this can be to researchers. :)

    Renate

  10. And, actually, Valerie, I would really LOVE to have you guest post this on my blog, Genea-Related (www.genea-related.blogspot.com). How do you feel about that?

    Renate

  11. Valerie, your gesture of sharing the information that you have is most appreciated. So many of our ancestors died never knowing where their ancestors were taken when families were divided. You have given a gift to the next generation, who may be seeking the answer to the reverse question–“who where their parents and were were they before?” As as descendant I say thank you!

  12. I think this is a wonderful idea and I hope it catches on. One way to share the information on Ancestry.com would be to attach the slave related documents to the slave owners profile. When I go looking at known slave owners of my ancestors, I look at the attached stories and other documents, such as wills and I found my ancestors names in an attached will. You could do this with bills of sale too. Another way would be to do a blog post and name the names so that someone searching would come across them.

    • Kristin,

      These are all great ideas. I do add any slave documents to the owners profile but I am not certain that people check them. I know that you do but you could be the exception and not the rule. I love the blog idea.

      Thank you for reading my blog and your comments!!

      Valerie

  13. Pingback: Lifting the Veil | Our Black Ancestry

  14. Laura Hedgecock

    Thanks for including this info!

  15. Valerie, i truly hope that more descendants of slave owners will have the courage to take the same steps that you have. for those of us who are *this close* to finding enslaved ancestors, the work that you’re doing will be GOLD. thank you so much for your willingness to share!

  16. Valerie,

    I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/04/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-april-4-2014.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  17. Valerie,
    I, too, have an ancestor that was a slave owner in Augusta County, Virginia. Just this evening I prepared a post and published it on my blog, Barb’s Family Stories at http://www.barbsfam.blogspot.com. I also submitted my information to AfriGeneas. Thanks for leading the way!

  18. Valerie, thank you for stepping out and sharing. I, too, have slave owners among my ancestors. I would be happy to share what I have on these families. The idea of a challenge mentioned in an earlier comment is a great idea.

  19. Pingback: Is Your Slave Ancestry in My File Cabinet? - Lisa Lisson

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