Central Maryland AAHGS Chapter

Slave Era Research

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Aaron Dorsey

On January 22, Aaron Dorsey presented an interesting and well-researched lecture on conducting slave era research to a packed house of over 50 people. Mr. Dorsey has been researching for close to 20 years, and has traced several of his lines back to the enslaved ancestor and beyond.

Using his formal training in historical study, he gave a thorough presentation which began with a brief overview of African-American history in the U.S. Mr. Dorsey then discussed the major records associated with each era and presented in-depth case studies from his personal research. He deftly weaved together tax, probate, census, land records and oral history to provide attendees with a template for how to begin this very difficult aspect of African-American research. Most important: Don’t dive into slave research too soon. Do your due diligence and work back slowly. Read local history. Research the cluster of people, not just one person.

This lecture was a great way to start off  2011. Slated for release at the end of the year, Mr. Dorsey will be working with fellow chapter member Robyn Smith to create a booklet of case studies on how to do slave research.

Aaron lecturing

Mr. Dorsey’s bibliography and slave resource guide for the lecture can be downloaded here:

Slave Era Research Resource Guide

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