Here are Ten Things that Terrify Archivists and records conservators, too! True tales and tails from the National Archives. Happy Halloween!
Census Fun Fact #3 – Do You Own a Radio Set? is the third installment of my “Census Fun Facts” series on the “History Hub” website. As the “internet” and “social media” of its time, statistics on the rise and extent of radio ownership were important to leaders in government, business, education, and other fields. The 1930 census was the first census to feature a question about technology in the home.
National Archives staff member Claire Kluskens will participate in a panel discussion as part of Howard University Television’s free preview of Season 6 of “Finding Your Roots” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on Thursday, 15 October 2020, at 6:30 p.m. This online event is free but you must register at WHUT TV’s Finding Your Roots Free Season 6 Preview.
Moderated by Sylvia Cyrus, Executive Director of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the panel will also include Dr. Nikki Taylor, Department Chair, Department of History, Howard University; and Nadine Vincenten, PhD, Science Associate, Harvard Medical School Personal Genetics Education Project.
Census Fun Fact #2 – Fictional Names: Just Call Me Another Time is the second installment of my “Census Fun Facts” series on the “History Hub” website. It features some folks with interesting names who are “hiding in plain sight” in New Orleans, Louisiana, on the 1910 census.
Stories about local personalities, estate sales, local events, long-forgotten conflicts and more…. You just never know what you will find by digging in unusual records. Find out more in “Mrs. Hartshorne’s Estate Sale and the Joking Neighbor of Patrick McGroury of Manalapan, New Jersey.”
The nonpopulation census records of agriculture, manufacturing, mortality, and social statistics for 1850-1880 contain valuable information not found elsewhere. I’ve now posted my “Research Guide to Nonpopulation Census Records” (August 2020 edition) that I hope you’ll find useful for these and other records that it describes.
Today’s Washington Post has an informative article by Michael E. Ruane, “During the Civil War, the enslaved were given an especially odious job. The pay went to their owners.” This article discusses the Confederate Slave Payrolls in the National Archives, which have all been digitized and are available online. These records show:
- Names (first names) of slaves.
- Name of the person from whom the enslaved person was hired (not necessarily their own slave owner).
- Location at which employed.
- Name of Confederate officer under whom the slave was employed.
- When employed (month and year, and number of days).
- Rate of pay and total pay.
- Signature (or mark) of the owner or the owner’s agent (designated “Atty” due to their power of attorney) to acknowledge receipt of pay.
- Some payrolls include the power of attorney given by a slave owner to authorize another person to collect payment on their behalf. The owner would execute a power of attorney if he or she was unable to go personally to the Confederate officer.
- There are also records of free blacks who were impressed (forced to serve) and a few payroll records for white Quartermaster Department employees.
Image: Side 2 of Slave Payroll 519 that shows six slaves and one free black man hired out of Greene County, Virginia, during January-March 1863, to work on the intermediate line of the defenses of Richmond, Virginia, under the command of 1st Lieutenant John B. Stanard.
Your NGS Virtual Family History Conference registration features two components: NGS 2020 Live! on 20 May at 11:00 a.m. and NGS 2020 On-Demand! that will open July 1, 2020. Three different options are offered: (1) 5 live and 20 on-demand sessions; (2) 5 live and 45 on-demand sessions; and (3) 5 live and 10-on demand sessions. Details at https://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/registration-packages/ #NGS2020LIVE
Updated 26 March 2020
The National Archives recently digitized the Record Book of Ebenezer Ferguson, Justice of the Peace, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 1799-July 1800 (National Archives Identifier 155501037). This is an unusual item for NARA to have as the repository of the permanently valuable records of the U.S. Government, either records created by it, or received by it.
Mr. Ferguson chronicled actions taken by him in his official capacity from December 1799 to July 1800. It may be his rough draft (often referred to as a “day book” or “waste book”) since the front cover is annotated with the letters “E & F” which suggests that the contents of this volume were subsequently recorded in permanent volumes E and F that would have been written in a neatly in a “fair hand.” The handwriting in this volume is “sloppy” and he “crossed out” many entries that may either indicate they were either resolved or copied to the permanent record book.
As justice of the peace, Mr. Ferguson was empowered to receive allegations of criminal activity that violated state law; charge suspects and require bail bond to ensure appearance at trial; require bond of prosecuting witnesses to ensure they appeared at trial to give evidence; and so forth. Most of the cases recorded in this volume are for assault and battery or for theft, but there are a few for runaway slaves or apprentices, or failure to support a wife. For example, on page 21, Benjamin Chase [Chane?], Jr., alleged that “George Harden was a Slave of his father Benjamin [illegible word] & that He has been Run away some [?] time.” George Harden was committed to jail in lieu of a bail bond. (See image below.)
Also on page 21, Geraldus Stockdale charged Demsy [?] Bauns [?] “with Leaving his wife a Charge on the Publick” funds.
Each entry is headed “CommonWelth [sic] vs. [name of defendant], and includes the date, name of person making the complaint, nature of the alleged criminal act, name of defendant(s), name of witness(es), and amount charged each defendant or witness as bond. Page numbers are written in the lower right corner of odd numbered pages.
This record book is in the custody of National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as part of the Post Revolutionary War Papers, 1784-1815, in Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office. (It has not been researched whether there is a “copy” of some kind in Philadelphia.)
Why can this local record book be found in the U.S. National Archives? That’s a good question for which there is no definitive answer at this time. Philadelphia was the national capital from 1790 until about May 1800. Colonel Ebenezer Ferguson commanded an artillery regiment in the Pennsylvania militia during the War of 1812. (See J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, p. 554 (Philadelphia: L. H. Everts and Co., 1884). Perhaps this volume became accidentally mixed in with federal military records at either time, or perhaps it was purposely submitted to the War Department for a specific reason that is not currently known. In either case, it’s an interesting window into the problems and activities of ordinary Philadelphians at the turn of the 19th century.