Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Finding Slave Marriages

Forgotten Historical Records 
There are records of slaves dated as early as the settlement of the Americas, but rarely can we trace these ancestors since last names are usually not given. Slaves did not always take their last owners names, and they often changed their names during Reconstruction Era as was permitted by law. Read also Ex-Slave Alias. So where else can you search for hints of your ex-slave ancestor? The answer is early Marriage Records.

Did They Legalize Their Marriages?
Marriage records of recently freed ex-slaves are often tucked under the more commonly researched books. After emancipation, African Americans were to legalize their marriages. Slave marriages, commonly jumping over a broom, or by a roaming preacher, were not recognized after the Civil War. (Of course it bought them few rights before the Civil War: sometimes a master allowed them joint residency).

But after the Civil War, when the right was granted, many African Americans rushed to get their marriages legalized, but not all. Those who did not legalize their marriage often regretted it. Without the formal civil marriage documents widows attempting to obtain Civil War Pensions using their slave-union were most often denied, even with children in tow and depositions of the slave marriage confirmed.

Freedmen's Bureau of Marriage Records 
Of course there are Freedmen's Bureau of Marriage Records but in rural America marriages were rarely recorded with the Bureau, but at local courthouses. At a3Genealogy we are attempting to capture and index these smaller hidden collections. For more information on the Freedmen's Bureau of marriage records visit Sealing the Sacred Bonds of Holy Matrimony Freedmen's Bureau Marriage Records

What to Expect
In the Saline County Colored Marriages Book, 1865-1870 not only were the marriages and parties named, but also names of children born under the slave marriage. The bride's surname may be a "hint" to a slave master, but of course more research is needed.

Current Funded Projects, Just in time for Valentine's Day
The Slave Marriage Book Project was launched 13 Feb 2013 on Kickstarter.com to scan, index and e-publish the names listed in the Colored Marriages of Saline County, MO. 1865-1870.

Kathleen Brandt,
a3genealogy.com
Accurate, accessible answers
a3genealogy@gmail.com

3 comments:

  1. This is a noble goal, Kathleen. I hope this project spreads from county to county. We need to recover this history.

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  2. Thanks Mariann. Hoping all will give at least $1 so it will be funded. I'm donating resources from a3Genealogy and will manage the project, but funding is needed for it to happen. The end product is free to the public!

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    Replies
    1. KATHLEEN,

      I SPOKE WITH YOU A SHORT WHILE AGO FROM LAWRENCE. AMAZING DATA TO
      IMPLODE MY CONSCIENCE...I'M THANKFUL THAT YOU HAVE BEEN INSPIRED TO ENTER INTO THIS FIELD...AS INDICATED IN OUR PHONE CONVERSATION,
      I DO BELIEVE THAT THIS STUDY AND RESULTS SHOULD BE PRESENTED NATION-WIDE TO BETTER UNDERSTAND SOME OF THE HURTS AND TRIALS OF THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN IN THIS GREAT COUNTRY, AND HOW THAT IT COULD BRIING ABOUT HEALING AND ACCEPTANCE AND BETTER SUPPORT ALL THE PEOPLES IN AMERICA TO UNDO THE TRAUMA OF THE TRAGIC BEGINNINGS OF THE HISTORY OF SLAVERY AND OPPRESSION OF PEOPLE OF COLOR...IT SHOULD LOOSE RATHER THAN INSIGHT TO BIND WITH ANGER ALL RIGHT-MINDED PEOPLE OF AMERICA. hOW DO I MAIL MY SMALL DONATION? AH FROM
      LAWRENCE, KS. YOU HAVE MY PHONE NUMBER.

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