Virginia Slave Births Index, 1853-1865: D-G
In 1853, the Commonwealth of Virginia began an annual registration of births and deaths. The Birth Index of Slaves, 1853-1865 was later transcribed by the Works Project Administration (WPA) and recorded on microfilm. While the information-name of slave owner, infant's name, mother's name, birth date, place of birth-is of immense value to genealogists, working with the microfilm can be problematic. Hence, the creation of this multi-volume reference work, Virginia Slave Births Index, 1853-1865. In 2003, staff and volunteers with Local History/Special Collections, Alexandria Library began to transcribe the WPA microfilm, enter data into spreadsheets, and sort the information by slave owner's surname and given name. Entries include single births, multiple births, and stillbirths. Occasionally, both parents of an enslaved infant are identified. In rare instances, the name of a freeborn infant appears. Independent city and county names are spelled out. Data not reported in the microfilm is denoted by "----." Illegible text in the microfilm is denoted by "####." This index includes more than 130,000 entries.
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I was most pleased when I discovered the reference to this four-volume index on the internet. It is indeed a valuable resource for Virginia genealogists specifically and for individuals—African Americans and others— seeking valuable information on their family histories. It is also an important document for Virginia, U.S., and world history. The entries are easy to read and follow once you have reviewed and understood the header on each page which explains the listings. I highly recommend this index. The only disappointment is that informants (slaveholders) of the slave births were not consistent in reporting the births. There are omissions that I have verified from other sources. This, of course, is not the fault of the compilers. Their work is thorough and extremely commendable.
On a personal note, I must note that I experienced a range of emotions—from sadness to happiness—when I found a listing of several of my ancestors in the index.
James J. Davis, Howard University