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Slave information from your family tree could enlighten other researchers


I’m excited to introduce Valerie Hughes, today’s guest poster. Valerie, a professional genealogist, recently gained insight about what to do with slave information you encounter during your family tree research.

Will You Take The Challenge?  Share Slave History from your Family Tree.

About two months ago, I joined a Black Ancestry Group on Facebook. You may think this is an odd thing to do considering I am not black. However, 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.

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 preface 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 needed it. I was so incredibly overwhelmed and humbled by the positive response, excitement, and encouragement that I received.

I began thinking how I could help to pass this along so that others can also share what slave-owner and slave information they may have? I realized that the best way to do this is to pass the information along to as many people as possible.

So here is a CHALLENGE:  While you are searching and researching your family history, think about how you can also help others in their quest to find their families. Ask yourself how can I “Pay It Forward”?

Attach Slave Information to Your Family Tree

As you find slave information in ANY document that lists the names of slaves or other information i.e. age, race, relationships etc., copy that document to your ancestor’s tree.

Adding slave information

Adding slave information to a family tree in

In, I use the “fact” button and start a new category called “Slave Owner.” Here I add the year, how many slaves were listed, any names, ages and so forth. By attaching the document to this ‘fact,’ it makes it easier when a person looks at your ancestor. They can just click on it to view the information without having to go looking for it.

Start a Related Family Tree with Slave Information

One suggestion was to start a new tree with just the slaves’ names. One of my ancestors, Permelia Allen, had two slaves, Ambrose and Caroline Collard. So I would start a whole new tree with just these two people in it. I would include all the information I can find concerning them. Then I would link it back to the slave owner so that whoever is looking for Ambrose and Caroline can find where they were and where they came from. You can also attach documents here also.

Submit Slave Information and History to Databases

Submit your information to databases that can upload it to their site so others can view it:


Slave information on slave schedule

Slave information on 1850 Slave Schedule: It only lists the owners’ names.

It only lists the owners’ last names.

#1 Write to your local historical society to encourage them to release the names of slaves in their records. Often they are not listed anywhere because they are overlooked. Stress the importance of doing this so others may find them.

#2 Contact, and other genealogy sites and encourage them to develop a way to add this information to our trees so that it can be searchable.

#3 SPREAD THE WORD. The more people we enlist to do these things, the better chances others may have in finding their ancestors and we can enrich the lives of others who are also searching for their Family History!

You can be a blessing to others so please just “Pay It Forward!”

Valerie Hughes is a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. She blogs about her genealogy journey at Genealogy with Valerie. She has two books available from Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can connect with Valerie via Facebook or Twitter.

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