Fourteen thousand slave manifests have been unveiled at the Atlanta Black Family History Symposium at the National Archives for the Southeast Region in Morrow, in Clayton County, Georgia. The documents track slaves in the late 18th century and the 19th century who came to Savannah, Mobile, Charleston, Beaufort, or Jekyll Island. There are also some manifests from Africa.
Emma Davis-Hamilton has spent the past 20 years traveling the nation in search of her ancestors. Through DNA analysis, she was able to track her roots to Ghana and Nigeria, but the trail ended there. "I would love to find where we belong," said the Atlanta woman, a volunteer at the National Archives. "I think Charlie may be where I belong."
Davis-Hamilton has now found a relative, possibly an ancestor, after finding his slave records from 150 years ago. Her probable ancestor, Charlie Carr, left more records than most slaves. He was born in the Congo and was one of the last slaves to make the crossing. He traveled on the ship Wanderer, which docked in Jekyll Island in 1858, 50 years after the overseas slave trade was supposed to have been abolished in 1808. He fought in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War but never was able to secure a pension for his family.
While Charlie Carr's record is unusual in the amount of information available, it is but one example of what may be found in the newly-organized slave manifests. In addition to names, some of the manifests on display have the slave's height, weight, age, and race. It may also have the name of the shipper and the purchaser.
Students and archivists are putting all this information into a computer database to make the information available within moments. That computer database will not be available for some years. For now, most of the manifests remain in 32 boxes.
You can read more about this collection in an article by Megan Matteucci in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/clayton/stories/2008/02/21/slavearchives_0222.html.