TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2009-06 > 1244937324
From: "Michael Hait" <>
Subject: [TGF] Survey of Slave Surnames
Date: Sat, 13 Jun 2009 19:55:24 -0400
[I have cross-posted this to both the APG and the Transitional Genealogists mailing lists. Please also feel free to forward this message to any other mailing lists or individual researchers that may be interested.]
In an ongoing study of slaves in Prince George's Co., Maryland, that I have conducted, as well as client research for African-Americans, mainly in Maryland, I discovered that an amazingly small number of freedmen after the Civil War chose to use to the surname of their last owner. I wrote an article reporting these findings, and challenging the common conception -- and a technique that is commonly taught to beginning African-American genealogists -- that you can identify the last owner of slave ancestors by searching for white families using the same surname. This article was itself challenged by a researcher in Georgia whose own studies proved the opposite - that most slaves did indeed use the surname of their last owner.
After several private discussions (via email) between the two of us, as well as discussions with other researchers, I believe that geographic or other factors may have caused some of the differences that have been discovered in this matter. However, to my knowledge, no broad studies on how freedmen chose their surnames has ever been done. As such, I have created two surveys -- one for pedigree researchers, and one for community researchers -- to try to enumerate the experiences of researchers across the country.
I would like to invite any African-American researchers, whether researching your own or clients' families, to take a look at these articles and complete the surveys. For professional genealogists, you can complete the survey multiple times for multiple client families. Please feel free to email me with any questions/comments on the surveys or to discuss the topic in general. You can reach the most recently posted article at this link: http://bit.ly/13U1kG.
Thank you for weighing in your experiences.
Author, The Family History Research Toolkit (www.genealogical.com)
Administrator, Prince George's Co., Maryland, Genealogy Trails (http://genealogytrails.com/mary/princegeorges); Charles Co., Maryland (http://genealogytrails.com/mary/charles); St. Mary's Co., Maryland (http://genealogytrails.com/mary/stmarys)
Master Editor, Civil War book project, Albany Hilltowns wiki (www.albanyhilltowns.com)
Instructor, African-American Research, GenClass.com (www.genclass.com)
National African-American Genealogy Examiner (http://www.examiner.com/x-8873-African-American-Genealogy-Examiner)