Perhaps you have been so fortunate as to inherit documents that illuminate your slaveholding ancestors’ lives. Or you have spent a lot of time gathering them from where they landed. Either way, you know more about your particular family than anyone alive today.
As a thorough genealogist, you are already committed to combing through every record, word by word, extracting all that helps in bringing your family tree to life. Perhaps, though, you have gone through these materials with a filter geared to scan past anyone who is not your ancestors’ kinsperson by blood or law.
The Beyond Kin Project encourages you to return to your research with new eyes. This time look for those who were integral to your family’s daily life, though not kin by blood or law. Seek the Beyond Kin.
Even if you find little to no mention of the Beyond Kin that populated your ancestors’ world, the timelines and sources you have found for your own family will be of great use to the descendants of their enslaved persons (EPs). When your ancestor bought a new plantation, relocated, had a child, had a catastrophic disaster or business failure, or died, it affected his or her slaves. It shaped their daily experience and often their long-term fate.
Share what you know. And do your best to know more.
The reasons-you-should menu
- Descendant of slaveowners, do you still hold the key?
- The records of slaveholders
- The group approach to slave identification
- The rest of the family picture
- The challenge and opportunity of a lifetime
- If you don’t have slaveholding ancestors
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