Slavery was a business and slaves equaled money. In a
business, one keeps accounts and detailed records of daily business activities and
transactions. An inventory list would contain six bushels of corn along with three
slaves for example. A birth of a slave meant an increase in inventory. A death
of an escape of a slave meant a reduction in inventory. The purpose of a slave catcher was
to bring back valuable property. Plantation owners kept detailed records of their
slaves because on them rested their livelihood.
Various plantations records come from Inventory/Estate lists, Wills, Day books or daily logs of plantation activity, Correspondence which could be letters that may mention a plantation
and its slaves, "Master's Records" or personal
notes or diaries of the plantation owner, "Doctor Visits"
-slave owners did call doctors for their slaves. It would have not been practical
to not tend to a sick slave. Some owners wanted sick slaves to at least get well
enough to sell them later. Some slaves were allowed to have weddings.
Various state laws governed marriages between between two slaves and also between free
blacks and slaves and the resulting children. Records were kept for these as well.
Also, some owners recorded slave births, deaths or weddings etc in their family Bibles for safe keeping.
Thanks to Nikki Williams for her contributions to this
If you have genealogical information related to plantation records in
any Mississippi County and would like to share with others, email Dorian Jefferson, the MSGenWeb
African-American Resources Coordinator.
| Plantation Record Links
| Will Record Links