My dear friend and West Virginia cousin, Cathy Meder-Dempsey, is a spectacular blogger at Opening Doors in Brick Walls. A recent series of posts (Black History Month: The Slaves of James SIMS: Parts 1, 2, and 3) regarding her ancestor’s participation in the unfortunate institution of slavery has taken wing and given light to another wonderful blogger, Schalene Jennings Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees, to create a project that would help researchers with slave ancestors. The Slave Name Roll Project is a crowd-sourced project, and cannot be done by just a few. As researchers are coming across these people who were denied so very much in life, the least we can do is give them back their names, in hopes that their descendants might have a chance at finding them.
So far in my research, I have not come across any slave-holders in my ancestry. But in attempting to remove my 21st century views and morals, it would be remiss of me to believe that all of my many ancestors disapproved of the act, and more likely that many just did not have the ways and means to participate in it. I hope that more and more researchers and bloggers commit to assisting in this worthy and long overdue project. Many of these names are hidden away in Wills, Estate Appraisals and Sales, private papers and ledgers. As I come across these names in my research I am going to make an effort to note them and add them to the growing Slave Name Roll Project. Won’t you join us?