In June 2015, the Fairfax Circuit Court Historic Records Center began to create a master index of slaves who appear in the records of the Fairfax Circuit Court between the years 1742 and 1870. The project began with the probate and land records, capturing the names of slaves, slave owners, slave hirers, and free African Americans on individual index cards. Each index card contains descriptive information such as age, skilled trades, family relationships, and monetary value (if applicable); the record’s citation; as well as the date of the document’s recording at the court.
In addition to probate and land records, Historic Records Staff has transitioned to collecting the same information from birth and death records, the Registration of Free Negros, personal property tax Records and court order books. The project will eventually include criminal and civil cases, as well as chancery cases.
The Fairfax County Slavery Index has captured the names of thousands of slaves who lived in Fairfax County, but it is important to note that the Fairfax Court Slavery Index will never be a complete record of all of the slaves who lived in the county. Some known slaveholding families never filed documents concerning slaves at the court, and so, because the index is based on court records, those slaves are missing from the index. Additionally, several 18th and early 19th century deed and court order books are missing from the Fairfax Circuit Court’s holdings, leaving gaps in the index.
The development of the Fairfax Court Slavery Index is an ongoing project. The index is available as a card catalog at the Historic Records Center.
Current Index Statistics – As of September 2017
|Slaves||21,603 (Slaves with Surnames: 1,044)|
*Numbers do not reflect unique individuals; the same person can be referenced in multiple records.
**Third party includes those who were involved in the economy of slavery, including (but not limited to) slave catchers, jailors, tax commissioners, auctioneers, and slave patrollers.
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