The New York Slavery Records Index is a searchable compilation of records that identify individual enslaved persons and their owners, beginning as early as 1525 and ending during the Civil War.

Our data come from census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth certifications, manumissions, ship inventories, newspaper accounts, private narratives, legal documents and many other sources. The index contains over 35,000 records and will continue to grow as our team of John Jay College professors and students locates and assembles data from additional sources.

Our goal is to deepen the understanding of slavery in New York by bringing together information that until now has been largely disconnected and difficult to access. This allows for searches that combine records from all indexed sources based on parameters such as the name of an owner, a place name, and date ranges.

To access the index or to learn more about its construction, use the navigation bar above:

  • SEARCH is the portal for inputting parameters to access particular records.
  • Search Instructions provides tips on how to get started.
  • Sources lists the types of records included in the index; bibliographic references; and all the database fields used to construct the index.
  • Project Team describes the faculty and students responsible for assembling and organizing the index.
  • Comments provides access to a survey for users to offer suggestions, identify additional records and collections of records to be indexed, and also to identify errors that we would correct.

Easy Searches To Try First

We have created easy and fast “TAG” searches that produce interesting topical results, such as the names of slave ship investors, records of slave sales, or the slaveholding status of NY State Senators. We also provide detailed Search Instructions showing how to drill down into the dataset to focus on a name or locality.

We suggest that you start with a quick and easy “TAG” search on a topic. All you need to do is to click on “SEARCH” on the main menu above and select at “TAG” in the search menu.

The following is a list of TAGS and the topics that they cover. These are constantly being updated by our researchers.

  • BON: These are records of slaves who escaped to the British during the Revolutionary War and who subsequently emigrated to Canada as free persons.
  • LSTD: These are records of slave transactions in Louisiana where the enslaved person was born in New York. Their enslavement in Louisiana may have been illegal in New York.
  • SJTR: These are records on enslave persons and owners identified in Sojourner Truth’s biography. We have an essay explaining these records.
  • RAN: These are records based on runaway slave notices and ads.
  • ABN: These are records of babies born to enslaved women who were officially abandoned by the slave owner and placed up for foster care by the local government.
  • SALE: These are records of a slave trade transactions.
  • EMN: These are records of emancipations of enslaved people.
  • CEM: These are records of a cemetery marker or cemetery document.
  • SEN: Tags starting with SEN followed by a year identify slave owners who were members of the New York State Senate for the year specified. We have an essay explaining that a majority of Senators in the 1790 and 1800 Senate owned slaves.
  • JAY: These are records of slavery and the extended family of John Jay.
  • SHIP: Records of a vessel transporting enslaved people.
  • INVNY: This tag identifies New Yorkers investing in a slave ship delivering enslaved people to New York.
  • INVI: This tag identifies persons not from New York (typically from Europe or the Caribbean) investing in a slave ship delivering enslaved people to New York.
  • HOUSE: This tag identifies records associated with a residence that still exists today.The tag includes the present-day zip code of the address and a letter, so, for example, the first house in zip 10538 is “house10538a” and the second is “house10538b,”
  • RAIL: These are records of people enslaved in a southern state arriving in New York seeking freedom.
  • CMPT: These are records of the NY State Comptroller’s Office compensating towns and cities for the costs of care for abandoned slave children.
  • DESC: These records contain the name of an early descendant of the enslaved person, to assist genealogists.
  • ADV: These records contain the name of a person who tried, in a direct and individual way, to advance or preserve the freedom of the enslaved person.
  • LEGAL: These records involve a legal case or trial.
  • 1741: The records of the trial of those charged in the Rebellion of 1741.

The remainder of this article provides more detailed instructions, including instructions for locality searches, census search and house searches.