Research

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Resources

 

Research on enslaved individuals, free Black laborers, and their families has been a long-term research endeavor at the University of Virginia and has involved faculty, staff, students, and community members. Historic sites in Virginia have also lead the charge to research and document this history. Links below lead to resources compiled over the years and are meant to assist with genealogical research. 

Jefferson's University... the Early Life (JUEL)

The entire Holsinger Studio Collection of more than 10,000 images is now housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. The African-American portraits comprise a small, yet significant, portion of this archive (numbering about 611). While names are associated with most of the portraits, they are based on who paid for the photograph, not necessarily who is in them.

President's Commission on Slavery and the University

In September of 2013, President Teresa A. Sullivan formally created the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University and charged the commission with providing her advice and recommendations on the commemoration of the University of Virginia’s historical relationship with slavery and enslaved people.

 

President's Commission on Slavery and the University Report to President Teresa Sullivan (2018)

The attached report summarizes five years of research and community engagement from 2013 until 2018 of the President's Commission on Slavery and the University.

 

Slavery at the University of Virginia: A Catalog of Current and Past Initiatives (2013)

Summary document of UVA's work on slavery prior to the President's Commission on Slavery and the University.

 

Enslaved African Americans at the University of Virginia Walking Tour

A walking tour of the University of Virginia campus highlighting the history of enslaved people and the institution of slavery.

 

Slavery at UVA Brochure

A visitor's guide to slavery at UVA created by students.

The First Generation: The First 30 Years of the Office of African American Affairs at UVA

A history of UVA's Office of African American Affairs, including its buildings, which formerly housed enslaved people.

The History of Dawson's Row (OAAA)

The history of buildings sold to UVA by an enslaver that eventually became the Office of African American Affairs. This resource includes information about the enslaved people who inhabited the space.

Old Pictures, New Visions:Rufus Holsinger's African American Portraits

The entire Holsinger Studio Collection of more than 10,000 images is now housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. The African-American portraits comprise a small, yet significant, portion of this archive (numbering about 611). While names are associated with most of the portraits, they are based on who paid for the photograph, not necessarily who is in them.

J.F. Bell Funeral Home Records

John Ferris Bell (1890-1959) was born and educated in Petersburg, Virginia. He graduated from Hampton Institute and later trained as a Funeral Director and Mortician in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Bell opened the J.F. Bell Funeral Home in 1917. It continues today as the oldest family run funeral home in Central Virginia and the area's oldest existing business owned by people of color.

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Genealogical Research

Conducted in partnership with UVA

Genealogist Dr. Shelley Murphy was hired by the University of Virginia in 2019 to find descendants of UVA's enslaved laborers following construction of UVA's Memorial to Enslaved Laborers. There is space for 4000 names on the Memorial, and researchers at UVA continue to discover new names of enslaved people who were enslaved by professors, hotel keepers, and others associated with the University of Virginia. 

This research is foundational for establishing our descendants community.

Partial List of Surnames of Enslaved and Free Laborers at UVA and Descendant Family Locations (current research)

Albemarle/ Charlottesville

Barbour/Barber

Briggs

Broadus

Brown

Coles

Commodore

Crobsy

Dickerson/Dickinson

Green

Heiskell

Henderson

Hern/Hearn

Maupin

Michie

Price

Salmom/Sammons

Smith

Southall

Strange

Tucker

Watson

Cumberland County

Skipwith

Fluvanna County

Brown

Skipwith

Harris

Greene County

Chapman

Halifax County

Boxley

Louisa County

Boxley

Brown

Dickerson/Dickinson

Harris

Jackson

Nunn

Price

Sandridge

Watson

Orange County

Barbour/Barber

French

Unknown Locations

Bibb

Childress

Douglass

Ganat

Johnson

Kemper

Meriwether

Mosby

Oliver

Patterson

Perrow

Prentis

Roberts

Simpson

Spooner

Taylor

Timberlake

Wade

African American Genealogical Resources

courtesy of Dr. Shelley Murphy

Membership

We are committed to finding and connecting with descendants of enslaved communities and free Black laborers associated with with the University of Virginia. If you believe you have African American ancestors who were associated with UVA, please follow the link to learn more or get help with your genealogical research.

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