Our goal on Wikitree is to honor the African-Americans in our history by creating profiles as we can of all the named enslaved people and building family trees for them. I am working in Alabama starting in Baldwin County. I have already extracted from the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Census (Slave Schedules) all that I can. It gives me owner, sex, age, and race. It does not provide the names. I have gone to USgenweb and extracted names of enslaved people from the wills or probates that I found there. I have extracted those I can from the 1866 Alabama Census, but can only partially correlate with known people. Can anyone give me additional sources?

  • A lot of source information of this nature is posted to the Facebook group "I've Traced My Enslaved Ancestors and Their Owners", and might also be a good place to post your question: facebook.com/groups/188373451214240
    – cleaverkin
    Commented May 16, 2023 at 19:59
  • Did that. Will follow up for responses. Meanwhile, any other?
    – JBramlage
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 22:48

2 Answers 2


GenWeb includes only estates contributed by users. That usually is only a handful.

Estate case files are arranged by the name of the decedent and begin in 1841. https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1113237?availability=Family%20History%20Library

You have to read them page by page. Do not use the read letter link to (blue) "here" which takes three steps to take you back to the same page. Create a free account if you do not have one, sign in, and click on camera. It will be slow work. At least you can ignore estates after 1866.


This is challenging work which requires researchers to really dig to find records. Asking other genealogists to generate a comprehensive list of records for you to try is not the best use of Stack Exchange. Instead, take a moment to step back and think about the research process.

You might find it helpful to review some questions that we already have on the site:

In the case of enslaved people, we have to take into account that individual people were treated as property, and the clues we seek may be found in property records as well as resources that we also use for free individuals like historical newspapers. You've already made a start in that direction by looking for estate records. However, where you find information might differ, depending on the individual county, so you'll really need to dig in and get familiar with the records. You may need to read court minute books page by page rather than depending on digitized records accessible via databases, and not all of the records you want may be online.

Use a geographic-based approach rather than a people-based approach to the problem. Look for research guides on tracing enslaved ancestors, and learn about the records for each place to see how records about the enslaved were made in that county. Search all jurisdictions that might cover the area.

One strategy you can use is to look for articles written by professional genealogists about tracing enslaved ancestors, not just to find more names for your project, but to look at the methodology they used. What record groups did they find, and how did they use the information in a record as clues to find other records?

Another strategy you can try is to use research guides, both for researching in Alabama and for tracing enslaved ancestors. See the resource list for some examples. It may be that you can't find articles or guides which are specific to Alabama or the county you are working in at the moment. In that case, take a look at the guides you have and ask questions:

  • What records did the researcher find?
  • How did the researcher find and access the records?
  • How did the researcher use the information inside the records?
  • Is the locality I'm working in similar or different? If different, how is it different? What did they do instead?

If you haven't already, create a research journal for Alabama research and keep track of the information you find about the records, notes about which other researchers are working in the area, where to find research guides, and any information that will be about the place and therefore helpful for all the people in your research.


  • 1
    Thank you; Very useful suggestions.
    – JBramlage
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 20:41
  • @JBramlage If you have specific questions about record sets, feel free to ask new questions.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 0:48

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