African American Resources for Maryland

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Introduction

Online Resources

Research Strategy

Records of Slaves. The first step in researching slave records is to find the slave owner and his family. Historical research shows that 85% of the former slaves did not take their former master’s surname. This means you probably will not find the slave owner from your ancestor's surname. Other difficulties may also limit the success of finding the name of the slave owner.

To do research, follow the lives of the slave owner’s family as a guide to places and events that affected the slave. Because a slave was not regarded as a person but as property of the slave owner, look for slaves in records that list property. The slaves are listed under the name of the slave owner. The slave owner's tax records may name each slave and give his or her monetary value. The slave owner's church records may list the names of his slaves. The slave owner's will and estate records may indicate how his property and slaves were distributed at his death. Some slave owners freed their slaves in their will. Also check to see if the slave owner ever freed his slaves by manumission or gave them a certificate of freedom.

Many state and local laws governed slaves and slavery. Check city, county, and state court indexes because court records mention slaves by name. For a better understanding of Maryland slavery laws, see:

Finkelman, Paul. State Slavery Statutes: Guide to the Microfiche Collection. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1989. (Family History Library book 975 F23s.) Pages 168–207 pertain to Maryland and cover the years 1789–1865.
Number of Slaves in Maryland[1]
County 1860 1850 1840 1830 1820 1810 1800 1790
Allegany 666 724 812 818 795 620 499 258
Anne Arundel 7332 11249 9819 10347 10301 11693 9760 10130
Baltimore 5400 6718 7595 10653 11077 11369 9673 7132
Calvert 4609 4486 4170 3899 3668 3937 4101 4305
Caroline 739 808 752 1177 1574 1520 1865 2057
Carroll 783 975 1122 0 0 0 0 0
Cecil 950 844 1352 1705 2342 2467 2103 3407
Charles 9653 9584 9182 10129 9419 12435 9558 10085
Dorchester 4123 4282 4227 5001 5168 5032 4566 5337
Frederick 3243 3913 4445 6370 6685 5671 4572 3641
Harford 1800 2166 2643 2947 3320 4431 4264 3417
Howard 2862 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kent 2509 2627 2735 3191 4071 4249 4474 5433
Montgomery 5421 5114 5377 6447 6396 7572 6288 6030
Prince George's 12479 11510 10636 11585 11185 9189 12191 11176
Queen Anne 4174 4270 3960 4872 5588 6381 6517 6674
Saint Mary's 6549 5842 5761 6183 6047 6000 6399 6985
Somerset 5089 5588 5377 6556 7241 6975 7432 7070
Talbot 3725 4134 3687 4173 4768 4878 4775 4777
Washington 1435 2090 2546 2909 3201 2656 2200 1286
Worcester 3648 3444 3539 4032 4551 4427 4398 3836
Total 87189 90368 89737 102994 107397 111502 105635 103036


Records of "Free People of Color". Ten percent of all the African Americans living in the South were free. To research records of free African Americans during this period, use the other record types described in this outline. Also look for additional sources that name "free people of color."

For more information about employment opportunities for African Americans in the 1800s, see:

Afro-American directory and employees purchasing guide, 1895. - [Baltimore]: Afro-American Employees' Pub. Co., c1895. (Family History Library microfilm 1404258)
Number of Free People of Color in Maryland[1]
County 1860 1850 1840 1830 1820 1810 1800 1790
Allegany 467 412 215 222 195 113 101 12
Anne Arundel 4864 4602 5083 4076 3382 2536 1833 804
Baltimore 29911 29075 21453 17888 12489 7208 4307 927
Calvert 1841 1530 1474 1213 694 388 307 136
Caroline 2786 5788 1720 1652 1390 1001 602 421
Carroll 1225 974 898 0 0 0 0 0
Cecil 2918 2623 2551 2249 1783 947 373 163
Charles 1068 913 819 851 567 412 571 404
Dorchester 4684 3848 3987 3000 2496 2661 2365 528
Frederick 4957 3760 2985 2716 1777 783 473 213
Harford 3644 2777 2436 2058 1387 2221 1344 775
Howard 1395 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kent 3411 3143 2491 2266 2067 1979 1786 655
Montgomery 1552 1311 1313 1266 922 677 262 294
Prince George's 1198 1138 1080 1202 1096 2929 648 164
Queen Anne 3372 3278 2541 2866 2138 2738 1025 618
Saint Mary's 1866 1633 1393 1179 894 636 622 343
Somerset 4571 3483 2646 2239 1954 1058 586 268
Talbot 2964 2593 2340 2483 2234 2103 1591 1076
Washington 1677 1828 1580 1082 627 483 342 64
Worcester 3571 3014 3073 2430 1638 1054 449 178
Total 83942 74723 62078 52938 39730 33927 19587 8043


The Family History Library may have records of African Americans in Maryland. To find, search in FamilySearch Catalog in the Subject Search under:

MARYLAND - MINORITIES

MARYLAND - PUBLIC RECORDS

MARYLAND - VITAL RECORDS

History

Resources

Biographies

Cemeteries

Census Records

Church Records

Emancipation Records

Funeral Homes

Genealogies

Land and Property

Plantation

While plantation records are a valuable source for slave research, there are many road blocks to a successful search. Many slaves never lived on a plantation. Determining which plantation a slave lived on is often difficult or impossible. Many plantation records no longer exist. Many slave owners owned more than one plantation. Some plantation records carefully identified each slave by name, while others did not. Without a central repository for plantation records, finding the records you need can be a difficult task.

To make plantation records more accessible for research, University Publications of America has begun a major microfilming project. This company has been microfilming plantation records from repositories around the country. Kenneth M. Stampp has produced special guides for each series of films. These records are sometimes called the Stampp Collection. The guides provide valuable information about the records.

Records for a Maryland plantation may not be in a Maryland repository. Someone living many states away may have donated the records to a repository elsewhere. To determine if the plantation records you need are a part of this project, you must carefully study the guide for each series of films. To find these guides, look in the Author Search of the microfiche version of the catalog under Stampp, Kenneth M. Currently, the Family History Library has series "A" through "N." Series "I" is a special set of slave records of Ante-Bellum Southern Industries. These records include slaves who were owned by major companies instead of a slave owner. To find the guide for the plantation records available at the Maryland Historical Society, see:

Stampp, Kenneth M., ed. A Guide to Records of Ante- Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War: Series D, Selections from the Maryland Historical Society. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1985–. (Family History Library book 975 H2sm ser. D) The Family History Library has microfilms of the records described in the guide (on 14 Family History Library films beginning with film 1534260).

Oral Histories

Other Records

Military Records

Patriots of Color is a free database at Archives.com. Includes details about 100 black Marylanders in the Revolutionary War.[2]

Newspapers

Probate Records

Reconstruction Records

After the Civil War, African Americans appear in the other types of records described in this outline. Use those records first. In addition, there may be other records in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under MINORITIES. A Subject or Keyword Search may also be helpful under: AFRICAN-AMERICAN. The sources listed below may also help you find records of African American ancestors.

Freedman’s Bank

An excellent source is the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (visit the African American Freedman's Savings and Trust Company Records page to learn more). This company was created to assist African American soldiers of the Civil War and freed slaves. Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company signature cards or registers from 3 March 1865 to 25 July 1874 may list the name of the depositor, date of entry, age, birthplace, residence, complexion, name of employer or occupation, wife or husband’s name, death information, children’s names, name of father and mother, brothers’ and sisters’ names, remarks, and signature. Early books sometimes contained the name of the former master or mistress and the name of the plantation. Copies of death certificates were sometimes attached to the entries. The collection is organized alphabetically by state, then city where the bank was located, then date the account was established, then account number.

Online collections of Freedman's Bank records:

Within each city the records are organized by account number. The Family History Library has these records for Baltimore, Maryland (928583) and Washington, D.C. (928574-75). These records may provide the name of the former master, the name of the plantation, birth date, birthplace, occupation, address or city where the person was living, and the names of parents, children, spouses, and siblings. If the depositor served with the U.S. colored troops, the company he served with may also be listed.

Freedmen's Bureau

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was created by the US government in 1865 until 1872 to assist former slaves in the southern United States. The Bureau created a wide variety of records extremely valuable to genealogists. Such documents include censuses, marriage records, and medical records. These records often include full names, former masters and plantations, and current residences.[3] For 1865 and 1866, the section on abandoned and confiscated lands includes the names of the owners of the plantations or homes that were abandoned, confiscated, or leased. It gives the county and location, a description of the house, the number of acres owned, and the number of cabins of former slaves. These films do not appear to contain the names of former slaves.

To find Freedmen's Bureau records:

Other FamilySearch collections not included:

Visit the African American Freedmen's Bureau Records page to learn more about utilizing these records.

For a good explanation of these records, see pages 68-91 of:

Byers, Paula K. The African American Genealogical Sourcebook. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Inc., 1995. (Family History Library Book 973 F27afg.)

School Records

Slavery Records

Maryland State Archives has prepared a series of online .pdf volumes of county-by-county scans of index cards, certificates of freedom, freedom affidavits, chattel records, histories, slave statistics, and manumission records. These volumes are online under: Slavery Commission.

Patriots of Color is a free database at Archives.com. Includes details about 100 black Marylanders in the Revolutionary War.[4]

Vital Records

Birth

Marriage

Some of the African American marriage records from about 1864 to 1875 are listed as cohabitation certificates or acknowledgments of cohabitation. They were sometimes filed with other marriage records. They were sometimes kept separately. Look for these records in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under VITAL RECORDS, PUBLIC RECORDS, or SLAVERY AND BONDAGE.

The Freedmen's Bureau (1865-1872) was created by the US government to assist former slaves in the southern United States. One of their responsibilities was to record the marriages (past and present) of the former slaves. These records can be found in the collections below and include the lists of marriages that occurred previously, marriage certificates, and marriage licenses. The information contained on the records may include the name of the husband and wife/groom and bride, age, occupation, residence, year or date of marriage, by whom, number of children, and remarks.

Death

Divorce

Voting Registers

Archives and Libraries

Reginald F. Lewis Museum
830 E. Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 443-263-1800
Email: info.services@lewismuseum.org

McKeldin Library
University of Maryland
7649 Library Lane
College Park, MD 20742-7011
Phone: (301) 405-0800

The McKeldin Library has an African American section in its Special Collections. See African-American Genealogy to find out more about what is held at the library.

Societies

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ninth Census of the United States: Statistics of Population, Tables I to VIII Inclusive (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1872), 36-37. Digital version at Internet Archive; FHL Book 973 X2pcu.
  2. Dick Eastman, "Archives.com to Publish the Patriots of Color Database," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 24 February 2012, http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2012/02/archivescom-to-publish-the-patriots-of-color-database.html.
  3. "African American Records: Freedmen's Bureau," "African American Heritage," National Archives, accessed 11 May 2018.
  4. Dick Eastman, "Archives.com to Publish the Patriots of Color Database," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 24 February 2012, http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2012/02/archivescom-to-publish-the-patriots-of-color-database.html.