Slavery in the United States tore families apart while leaving few exact records. Knowing that one’s ancestor had to endure the abuses of slavery can be distressing. Charles Blockson, in his book Black Genealogy, has given this encouragement: "There is certainly no reason to be ashamed if some of your relatives were slaves -- you should be proud if they were able to maintain their dignity in the midst of an inhuman system". Searching for ancestors who may have been slaves requires a thorough investigation of slave-owning families in public and historical records.
Helpful introductory materials include:
See also materials in the State Library’s Law and Legislative Reference Unit, for example:
These records, documenting the sale and ownership of land, also document the sale, purchase, manumission, and emancipation of slaves, who were considered personal property. There is no statewide index to Connecticut land records, but general indexes to grantors and grantees are available for most towns. Some examples of manumissions in land records include:
Negro, Alpheus, Emancipated from John & Benj. Moseley, 31 Oct. 1808
Glastonbury Land Records, Volume 15, page 413.
Slave, Cato, (Negro) - emancipation. Grantor: Warner, Jonathan
Lyme Land Records, Book 20, page 21, Oct. 7, 1793.
Land records for each Connecticut town have been microfilmed to about 1900 on a town-by-town basis and are available at the Connecticut State Library and Latter-day Saint Family History Centers.
Check our Hartford, Connecticut Courant Index, 1764-1799 under the headings “Slave trade.” “Slavery,” “Slavery, in British colonies,” “Slaves,” “Slaves, adv. For,” “Slaves, for lease,” Slaves, for sale,” “Negroes, runaway”. The State Library has many other original and microfilmed early Connecticut Newspapers.
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