College compiles first-ever index of slaves and their owners in NY
A Big Apple college has compiled the first-ever index of slaves and their owners in New York state dating back to as early as 1525.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York, gathered 35,000 records and put them in a publicly searchable database to deepen understanding of slavery in New York.
“This vast, public database will serve as an important research tool that will support information-based scholarship on slavery in New York and across the nation,” Karol V. Mason, president of John Jay College, said in a statement.
“The launch of this index marks a significant contribution to understanding and remembering the country’s history of slavery and advances the College’s mission of educating for justice.”
The index, which includes records that end around the Civil War, was developed and administered by John Jay professors Ned Benton and Judy-Lynne Peters with a team of graduate students in the Master of Public Administration program.
The index includes census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth certificates, newspaper accounts and other records.
Other sources include records from New York state senators who owned slaves in 1790 and 1800, data from almost 200 “Underground Railroad” fugitives who came to New York after escaping slavery in the South, and 550 advertisements that sought the capture and return of enslaved New Yorkers.
John Jay said information pertaining to enslaved New Yorkers has been largely disconnected and difficult to access. They said the database allows for searches that combine records from different sources, which increases the chances of a match.