Original Resources for African-American Genealogy


Join us to discover original resources
for researching African-American genealogy at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. After the Civil War, former slaves had some
new rights to exercise. Counties compiled lists of eligible voters, including African-American
men, and sent copies to the Texas Secretary of State’s office. The 1867 voter registration
is one of the earliest records listing full names and biographical information for
former slaves living in Texas. Charles W. Bryant represented Harris County in the Texas Legislature during Reconstruction. He registered
to vote on June 14, 1867 and listed his residence as Houston. He appears to have lived in Texas
for 10 years and in Harris County for 10 months prior to registration. The second page contains additional information about the individual.
The ditto marks under Native may mean he was born in the United States rather than in Texas.
The lack of an x means he was literate, a requirement to hold office. Ditto marks
under “Colored” appear next to his name. Memorials and petitions were submitted to
the Texas Congress or Legislature by individuals or groups seeking assistance through legislative
action. Memorials and petitions contain a variety
of information about individuals, including residence, reputation, abilities, and names of acquaintances. Cynthia Ewing requested
that her former slave Liley or Delilah, be emancipated and allowed to remain in Texas. Several pages of signatures
include testaments to her ability as a cook. Later records may document earlier actions.
This 1891 petition refers to military service by slaves during the Texas Revolution in 1835
and 1836. Every family has a few skeletons in the closet.
And that is an advantage when researching family history. If someone has been famous
or infamous, there is a better chance that their life has been documented. Convict ledgers list and describe inmates
sentenced to and received by the state penitentiary in Texas. Information includes:
Physical description, such as complexion and scars, and place of birth of the inmate and his parents. The remarks column notes if an inmate was
pardoned, discharged, or died in custody. Information in these records can provide clues
about other places to search, including court records and pardon records.

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