2 Replies Latest reply on Jul 22, 2020 3:42 AM by Hollis Gentry Branched to a new discussion.

    What was the first step in this process by the owner?


      I need assistance in identifying what source document a slave owner was needed, or the process to ship slaves from Charleston SC to Savannah  GA.  I am aware a manifest noted slaves by name, age and shipper/owner.  But what steps preceded the manifest, and In the case of a "shipper"--being noted, how can I find out who the owner was? What paper trail would I reference?

        • Re: What was the first step in this process by the owner?
          Cara Jensen Tracker

          Dear Ms. Carroll,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located a series titled the Coastwise Slave Manifests, 1801 - 1860 for Savannah and a series titled Coastwise Slave Manifests, 1820 - 1858 for Charleston in the Records of the U.S. Customs Service (Record Group 36) that may include the documentation that you seek.  Some of these records have been digitized. For access to the non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at Atlanta (RE-AT) via email at atlanta.archives@nara.govWe also suggest that you consult the finding aid for the Charleston manifest, available from the National Archives at Atlanta.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RE-AT.  We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

          In addition, we suggest that you contact the South Carolina Department of Archives and History or the Georgia Archives to search for information on a specific slave trader/shipper.  They may have collections which include the pre-manifest documents which you seek.

          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: What was the first step in this process by the owner?

            The steps preceding transportation of enslaved individuals depended upon the circumstances or reasons for their transportation. Suggestions for research are as follows:


            1. Search local newspapers.  If you are working with the manifest records (digitized manifests available on Ancestry.com), then you should search through local newspapers preceding and following the date of transportation between ports.  You should search for advertisements from traders indicating their interest in purchasing enslaved individuals, or for ship owners who offered to transport them.  You should also search for advertisements or notices related to sales or auctions, on both ends, from the supply end to the final destination.


            2. Search local court records.  If the enslaved individuals were listed as part of an estate, then you could search through probate/estate records, and possibly deeds for additional evidence of the process. 


            3. Shadow the research footsteps of historians.  The domestic slave trade, and the trade in Charleston has been studied by numerous scholars.  Search for articles and books on the trade, and focus on the notes and bibliographies for primary or secondary sources, and the institutions where rare record collections may be found.  One example of fairly contemporary scholarship is Gregory E. O'Malley's article, "Slavery's Converging Ground: Charleston's Slave Trade as the Black Heart of the Lowcountry," in The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol, 74, No. 2 (April 2017), pp. 271-302.  It's available via JSTOR.  If you don't have institutional access, you can reach out to the Smithsonian Libraries at AskaLibrarian@si.edu, or AskaGenealogist@si.edu for a PDF of the article.  Other scholarship to research come from historians Robert H. Gudmestad and Calvin Schermerhorn https://asu.academia.edu/CalvinSchermerhorn .


            4. Check ARCHIVEGRID database https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/ for institutional collections on the slave trade.  For example, a simple search using the terms "Charleston" and "Slave trade" generated 225 results [List View], displaying an array of private family and business documents and papers.  See example:  https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/?q=Charleston+%22slave+trade%22&p=1&ft=0


            5. Contact African American research specialists.  Toni Carrier and Robin Foster are on staff at the Center for Family History at the International African American Museum (IAAM) https://cfh.iaamuseum.org/contact/ .  They may be aware of additional resources related to the slave trade in those two states.


            I've researched manifests, private business papers, newspapers, and local court records related to traders Bernard Raux, Paul Pascal, and Nathaniel Currier who transported enslaved individuals from Norfolk, VA to New Orleans, LA and Natchez, MS [their business papers survive at Harvard University's Houghton Library].


            Aside from their personal business records, I found at the time that the local newspapers were the sole source of evidence that revealed info about their trade practices in Virginia.  If and when they purchased enslaved individuals, they did not record those transactions in local deeds.  Rather they kept business records. The surviving evidence suggests that they acted as transport agents on behalf of owners, and thus skirted the issue of recording deeds or paying taxes.  I could not find evidence of them as slave owners, traders, or brokers in local court records.  I don't know if their practices mirror those of traders in South Carolina or Georgia, but my findings suggest that you cast your research net widely, at a variety of institutions, to help you trace the steps leading to transport in the domestic slave trade.