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Who enslaved your ancestors?

This section is a first step in helping you identify who might have enslaved your ancestors. If you find a slaveholder with your ancestor's surname on this list, it can put you on a trail to court records, deeds, land records and other materials that confirm your ancestry.

The information here comes from work done by Tom Blake from 2001-2005. He headed a "Large Slaveholder Project" which compiled the names of large slaveholders from the 1860 US Federal Census slave schedules and matched them with the names of African Americans in the 1870 census. 


The 1860 slave schedules were enumerated by county and included 393,975 names of slaveholders who held a total of 3,950,546 people in bondage. The actual number of slaveholders may be slightly lower because some large holders held slaves in more than one county or state and would have been counted more than once.


The Blake study lists 11,020 individual slaveholder names, representing a total of 792,219 slaves in 158 counties in 10 states. This represents 49.8% of slaves held in these counties and 20% of slaves held in the United States in 1860.


Click on the first letter of the surname you are researching in the navigation bar of this page. You will find a list that includes the name of the slaveholder and the state and county in which he/she was enumerated. You can then use this information to consult US Census records and find out more. If you go to the orginal study, you can find out how many people this particular person enslaved and who his neighbors were.


REMEMBER, these are only the largest slaveholders in only 10 states. Most slaveholders enslaved 10 people or less and there were many slaveholders in northern states. They are not listed here. Don't be disappointed if you don't find the name you are looking for. 


To consult the original Blake study, use this link:

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