Last year I wrote an article called “Slaves and Slavs in the U.S. Census (and how to tell the difference!).”
You can find the post here: http://geneablogie.blogspot.com/2008/06/research-tip-slaves-and-slavs-in-us.html. It describes how to find African-Americans by name in the census prior to 1870. Since writing that last year, I’ve continued to experiment with the topic and have discovered another way. On Ancestry.com, pick out the option that allows you to search a specific census year. Let’s pick 1860 for example.
Ancestry.com>Home>Search>U.S. Federal Census>1860.
Now leave the name spaces blank, but chose a state or a state and a county. Let’s use for this example Clay County, Missouri. Now in the space that says “Keyword(s)”, type “black.” And that produces a list of 34 names of which 33 are African-Americans. The 34th person is a white person named “Black.” In different states, different terms in the “Keyword(s)” box get different results.
Now let’s try Talbot County, Georgia in 1860. With the word “black” we get nothing; but with the “colored,” we have some hits. Sometimes these terms produce first names and surnames and other times just first names. I recommend trying various terms for any given state and you may turn up a wealth of results. Coming up later: Has this technique crumbled my very highest brickwall?
March 24, 2009 Tuesday at 4:09 pm