District of Columbia Free Black Registers [2 volumes]


This set contains abstracts of official registrations of free status by non-slave African American residents of antebellum Washington, D.C. Four of the five original volumes have survived; the one for 1846–1855 is missing. “The records consist of far more than copies of slave manumissions and include various types of documentation showing the basis of a free African American’s assertion of non-slave status. Such records were common throughout the southern states (and, indeed, some northern ones) in the antebellum period and were usually called ‘Freedom Registers.’” All genealogical data in the registers is included, and the author has added extensive supplemental data from many sources. Entries vary greatly, but they typically give the name of the person being registered, the basis of the registrant’s claim to freedom, a physical description of the registrant, and the name of the person making the affidavit on the registrant’s behalf. A single entry frequently relates to several individuals, usually members of the same family. Selected entries have accompanying notes that provide additional information that the author has culled from other sources. Chapters include: Volume 1: 1821–1828 (Nos. 1–628); Volume 2: 1828–1837 (Nos. 629–1488); Volume 3: 1837–1846 (Nos. 1489–2368); and, Volume 5: 1855–1861 (Nos. 2369–2871). Facsimile reprints of a certificate of freedom and a typical page from a district register of freedom; a table: “White, Free Black, and Slave Population;” two appendices: “Registration Law in Force on September 1, 1848” and “Typical deed of manumission;” a bibliography; and a full-name index add to the value of this work.

Dorothy S. Provine

1996, 8½x11, paper, index, 2 vols., 728 pp.

ISBN: 9780788405068