Weekly Wire
NewCityNet Slave Data

Checking out the Internet's slave ancestry archive

By John O'Connor

JULY 10, 2000:  With all of the discussion about reparations for ancestors of slaves, the question is: How do you determine which Americans are descended from slaves?

If it ever happens, one way might be the new Chicago-based Slave Archival Collection Database, launched June 5 by the International Society of Sons & Daughters of Slave Ancestry. Funded by a $250,000 grant from the State of Illinois, ISDSA was established to collect genealogical information on American slaves from their surviving descendants. The Website (www.rootsweb.com/~ilissdsa) provides a research network for tracking down long-lost relatives and solicits information from the descendants of slaves as well as slave-owners in hopes of connecting scattered families.

The database currently includes a registry of about 500 slaves, with places and dates of birth, post-mortem photos and some oral history. And Bearden says that presently more Euro-Americans than African-Americans are accessing the site. Descendants can register information about enslaved ancestors in the hopes that ISDSA can find a match, and, according to ISDSA co-founder Jo Ann Page, it's possible that you'll discover a relative you didn't know existed.

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