Migration Patterns - An Alternative for Locating African OriginsEdit This Page

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Syllabus for class taught by James Ison, Manager at FamilySearch, presented at the NGS 2010 Conference, and the FGS 2010 Conference.

Contents

Problem

Like many Americans, 20th century African-Americans were on the move leaving an almost entirely rural setting in the South to a predominantly urban setting in the North, West, and South. After the Civil War, many former slaves moved within the South in search of work. The first half of the 19th century witnessed a Second Middle Passage as over 1 million enslaved people were forced from residing in Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas to work the fields of the Deep South. Many African-Americans have lost track of their ancestors’ journeys within the United States, and few have evidence of their ancestral origins in Africa. DNA testing has become an only option for many in learning about African origins.

Session Description

As popular as DNA is in providing clues to ancestral origins, there are limitations to what can be learned using DNA tests. An alternative is using migration patterns, family records, and census records to determine the general area in the United States where one’s ancestors arrived. Once a general locale is determined, then the newly available Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade database is a useful tool to understand implications for one’s African ancestry.

Topics

  • DNA testing is great but has limitations
  • Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade database: a new resource
  • Five migration periods
  • Importation to the Chesapeake (Virginia and Maryland)
  • Importation to South Carolina and Georgia
  • Cotton was “King”
  • Second Middle Passage—Internal slave exports 1790-1860
  • Post Civil War migration
  • Going North—the “Great Migrations”
  • Returning South
  • Case Studies: Finding likely African origins


Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Origins 1619-1810 (disembarkation) [1]

African Origin
Africa Today
Northern States
Virginia Maryland
South Carolina Georgia
Gulf Louisiana
American Colonies
Senegambia

Senegal Gambia

7,276
31,314
44,682
8,600
91,872
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
2,681
3,749
35,042
3,421
44,893
Windward Coast
Ivory Coast
763    
4,842
16,175
0
21,780
Gold Coast
Ghana
8,165
15,281
31,387
1,044
55,877
Bight of Benin
Togo, Benin
0
3,141
3,156
2,933
9,230
Bight of Biafra
Nigeria
0
45,186
18,363
751
64,300
West Central Africa
Angola Congo
5,396
22,122
60,191
3,631
91,340
Southeast Africa
Madagascar Mozambique
2,674
2,032
1,481
1,404
7,591
Total

26,955
127,668
210,477
21,785
386,885

African Origin
Africa Today
Northern States
Virginia Maryland
South Carolina Georgia
Gulf Louisiana
American Colonies
Senegambia

Senegal Gambia

27%
25%
21%
39%
24%
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
10%
3%
17%
16%
12%
Windward Coast
Ivory Coast
3%
4%
8%
0%
6%
Gold Coast
Ghana
30%
12%
15%
5%
14%
Bight of Benin
Togo, Benin
0%
2%
1%
13%
2%
Bight of Biafra
Nigeria
0%
35%
9%
3%
17%
West Central Africa
Angola Congo
20%
17%
29%
17%
24%
Southeast Africa
Madagascar Mozambique
10%
2%
1%
6%
2%
Total

100%
100%
100%
100%
100%


Origin of 6th Great Grandparents Applying Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database


African Origin
Africa Today
Northern States
Virginia Maryland
South Carolina Georgia
Gulf Louisiana
American Colonies
Senegambia

Senegal Gambia

69
64
54
102
61
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
26
8
44
41
31
Windward Coast
Ivory Coast
8
10
20
0
15
Gold Coast
Ghana
77
31
38
13
36
Bight of Benin
Togo, Benin
0
5
3
33
5
Bight of Biafra
Nigeria
0
90
23
8
41
West Central Africa
Angola Congo
51
44
72
44
61
Southeast Africa
Madagascar Mozambique
26
5
3
15
5
Total

256
256
256
256
256


Percent Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to American Colonies by Time Frame (disembarkation)


  Time Period
Northern States
Virginia Maryland
South Carolina Georgia
Gulf Louisiana
American Colonies
1626-1650
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
1651-1675
4%
2%
0%
0%
1%
1676-1700
6%
7%
0%
0%
3%
1701-1725
5%
24%
3%
12%
10%
1726-1750
43%
42%
17%
22%
27%
1751-1775
40%
24%
36%
7%
31%
1776-1800
1%
0%
13%
13%
8%
1801-1810
1%
0%
32%
46%
20%
Total
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%


Primary migration periods

  • North American slave trade (1619-1808)
  • U.S. internal slave trade (1810-1860)
  • Post-Civil War (1860-1910)
  • Great migrations (1910-1960)
  • Recent migration South (1970-2000)

Second Middle Passage (1810-1860)

  • Over 1 million enslaved people moved or were sold to the South (George, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas).
  • Virginia supplied 46% of exports, totaling 505,000 slaves.
  • Maryland exported 33% of slaves in 1790-1820.
  • South Carolina supplied 26% of exports in 1850-59.

Post-Civil War Period

  • Most African-Americans continue to live in the South after 1870.
  • In 1900, most of Southern born blacks in the North were born in Virginia and Kentucky.
  • 100,000 African Americans moved to Kansas in the late 1870s and early 1880s.

Great Migrations

  • 1.5 million African-Americans left the South during 30 years, 1910 to 1940.
  • In the next 30 years, 1940 to 1970, nearly 5 million African-Americans moved North.
  • Generally migrations out of the South were due North using an “Interstate” pattern (I-95, I-85, I-75, I-65, and I-55).
  • They often maintained continuing contact with family members in the South.

Backtracking from North to South to Colonial to African areas of origin • Use 1920-1930 censuses in the North to find places of residence in Southern states. • Continue census searches to find the earliest locations using the 1870 and 1880 censuses. • Using the 1870 census for the applicable county in a Southern state, conduct a “no-name” search for black males born in 1790—see distribution of birth states as an indicator for original colonial area before the internal slave trade. For example, 76% of Autauga County, Alabama were born in Virginia. • Use colonial area in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade tables to find African areas of origin.

Bibliography:

Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1998.

Curtin, Philip D. The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1969).

Eltis, David and others. The Transatlantic Slave Trade 1527-1867: a database on CD-ROM (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1999).

Hackett, David and Kelly, James. Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement (University of Virginia Press, 2000).

Littlefield, Daniel C. Rice and Slaves: Ethnicity and the Slave Trade in Colonial South Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981).

Tadman, Michael. Speculators and Slaves: Masters, Traders, and Slaves in the Old South (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1989).

  1. http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/assessment/estimates.faces


 

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