Useful Articles from Academic Journals (II)

Many academic articles explore specific aspects of slavery.  Genealogists of the slavery period will find many useful articles like these two:


Slaves’ Naming Practices

John C. Inscoe, Carolina Slave Names: An Index to Acculturation,” The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 49, Issue 4 (November 1983), pages 527-554.

This article discusses personal names of American slaves, and the evolution of naming practices—who named new slaves, and what names they were given—in North and South Carolina from 1670 through 1865.  Inscoe analyzes about 11,000 names from the records of 145 Carolina slaveowners, church records, county records, a manumission society, and even three slave traders! He discusses the persistence of African names, the evolution of anglicized African names, weather names (Rainy, Stormy, Eartha, for examples), birthplace names, seaport names, and classical Roman names.  Inscoe discusses slaves’ use of famous names (Washington, Lafayette, for examples) and Biblical names (although I think he underestimates the slaves’ understanding of the significance of these names), Puritan names.  He discusses the persistence of names as family names passed down to new generations, and the occasional use of a father’s personal name as a surname.   Inscoe emphasizes how distinctive was the range of slaves’ names (experienced researchers who have compared the range of names found in slave lists to the range of names of slave owners have undoubtedly noticed the very limited number of names given to most antebellum whites).   Inscoe suggests that the adoption of new names from a range of sources stopped at Emanciption, and concludes that the wide variety of slaves’ names was a “unique . . cultural product of slavery.”  When Inscoe discusses surnames adopted after the end of the Civil war, I think he sometimes goes seriously astray in his analysis—but that is a debate for another time.


Eighteenth-Century Georgia Slave Importation

Darold D. Wax, “‘New Negroes Are Always in Demand’: The Slave trade in Eighteenth-Century Georgia,” The Georgia Historical Quarterly, Vol. 68, (Summer, 1984), pages 193-220.

A study of the beginnings of African slave importation into Georgia in the 1700s. Includes a useful table showing by year, 1784-1799, the numbers and origins of slaves imported into Georgia. The list includes Jamaica, Haiti, St. Croix, Antigua, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Grenada, St. Eustatia, Connecticut, Maryland, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Gold coast, Goree, Isle Delos, Angola, Bance Island, and Banana Island. The data reminds us that not all slaves came directly from Africa, although most did. The data in this article may be superceded by the wonderful “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database” online at , but there is probably much good discussion for researchers looking for ancestors who came to Georgia in the 18th century.


gwenJuly 4th, 2009 at 1:24 am

David, my research has been much like yours. My father’s family’s roots are Hillsborough, Orange County/Durham, Durham County NC. I am from CA. Relatives assumed that everything that could be known was. I started accumulating documents from various archives and libraries, and saw that the lives of everyone in the community were intertwined, and that they are all related to each other (and me). Now it looks as if I will be writing a book (my goal) about the community, which IS my family!

DavidJuly 20th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Gwen, I’d love to hear about your progress (and how you meet research challenges) as you research and write your book!

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