Finding Enslaved Blacks in White Church Records

March 17th, 2018 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor

Title: Enslaved Blacks in White Church Records: An Overlooked Resource
Session: S408
Time & Date: Saturday, 05 May 2018, 8:00 a.m.

Genealogists researching African-American ancestors can find answers in records created by slaveholders’ churches. Many such documents created as early as 1780 through 1860 survive and record the enslaved. They are an important resource for tracing enslaved ancestors.

Family historians can uncover information about a slave’s birth, death, family members, owners, attendance, dismissal, sale, and more in white church records. While slaves who attended those churches did not have standing equal to that of whites, they usually were documented on the various member rolls.

This intermediate-level lecture will focus on identifying church records that are likely to document slaves. It also will focus on finding and accessing those records, as well as using the information they contain as evidence. The presenter will highlight the types of church records that are most likely to have genealogically useful information. In addition, she will discuss how the information in those records varies among denominations.

Genealogists who have studied communities where the enslaved ancestors come from, learned the names ancestors used before and after freedom, and have some knowledge or ideas about who the slaveholders were, will benefit most from this lecture.

ABOUT: Wevonneda Minis, a retired journalist, lectures on general research methodology, several record collections, African Americans, and slaveholding families. She is ISFHWE president, a Gen Proof Study Group mentor, and member of several genealogical organizations. She can be reached at