The following announcement was written by the owners of the Lowcountry Africana website:
The results of groundbreaking genealogical research to reconstruct family lineages of enslaved communities on Drayton family plantations in the United States and Barbados will be released Saturday, March 29 with the launch of the Lowcountry Africana website (www.lowcountryafricana.com).
The yearlong project, sponsored by the Magnolia Plantation Foundation of Charleston, South Carolina, has focused on gathering, compiling and interpreting records from all known Drayton family plantations. The Draytons held plantations in Barbados, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Texas.
Researchers from the University of South Florida Africana Heritage Project and descendants of former Drayton family slaves worked together to rediscover the scattered document trail which may reveal the family and cultural heritage of many thousands of African Americans living today. Drayton Hall Plantation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who hold the Drayton family papers, were major partners in the research.
Because Charleston was a major port of entry and a hub for the international and domestic slave trade, African Americans throughout the United States may discover their families’ roots among the records to be released March 29.
No former slaveholding family has ever funded such research in their plantation records to rediscover the names and life stories of former slaves. “This is a wonderful example of enlightened stewardship,” said Toni Carrier, director of the USF Africana Heritage Project. “The Drayton family is taking an unflinching look at its history; a history shared by the hundreds of Africans and African Americans who lived and worked on Drayton family plantations. This research demonstrates, in a remarkable way, that we have nothing to fear from bringing this painful history out into the light.”
In addition to sponsoring this groundbreaking research, the Magnolia Plantation Foundation has also funded the development of the Lowcountry Africana website, which will be an enduring archive for those researching African American genealogy, history and culture in the Lowcountry Southeast. The project will continue to gather and interpret records for the former rice-growing areas of the coastal Southeast, which gave rise to the rich Gullah-Geechee cultural heritage.
Access to the entire content of the Lowcountry Africana website will always be free. The website will feature a searchable database of primary historical documents, book and multimedia excerpts, a research library with articles of interest to genealogists and scholars, information on key archives and websites with significant holdings pertaining to the Lowcountry Southeast, and a members area where readers can keep a research journal and bookmark links.
The Lowcountry Africana website development has been a collaborative effort of the USF Africana Heritage Project and WeRelate.org (www.werelate.org), a free public-service wiki for genealogy sponsored by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy, Inc. in partnership with the Allen County Public Library. WeRelate.org is the world’s largest genealogy wiki, with pages for more than 1,500,000 people and growing. “We are honored to be a part of this exciting effort to make records documenting the history of African Americans freely available to all,” said Dallan Quass, President of the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy.
WeRelate.org has customized its family tree software for African American genealogy by adding events and document categories that are relevant for research in plantation and other Antebellum records. Readers will be able to navigate seamlessly between Lowcountry Africana and WeRelate, where the lineages of known descendants of Drayton family freedmen will be posted. In addition, many of the original document images will be hosted at WeRelate.org.
The major Internet archives Footnote.com and GenealogyBank.com have contributed many document images to the Drayton family research presentation, and to the Lowcountry Africana website.
The March 29 launch event at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina will include a commemoration ceremony to honor those once enslaved on Drayton family plantations. The Lowcountry Africana website will be live at www.lowcountryafricana.com Saturday morning, March 29, 2008.
For more information about Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, please contact Jane Taylor Knight at 843-571-1266, or visit the Magnolia Plantation website at www.magnoliaplantation.com. For more information about the Lowcountry Africana website and this groundbreaking research, please contact Toni Carrier at 813-246-2201 or by email at email@example.com .