Unknown No Longer Debuts!
Unknown No Longer is a database of the names of all the enslaved Virginians that appear in our unpublished documents. Thanks to a generous grant from Dominion Resources and the Dominion Foundation in January 2011, we launched the online database in September 2011. To recognize Black History Month, a series of workshops will be offered.
In 2011, I began working with our archival records with a single-minded focus on slavery. The Virginia Historical Society’s rich collections afford me the opportunity to look at a variety of documents that record the unknown, though not unnamed, people who were considered property.
To be candid, this is a hard subject to study. The onerous nature of slavery offends my sensibilities in every way. In fact, during graduate school my focus was on the Reconstruction era. Yet, when the opportunity to delve into our collections to extract the names of enslaved people was presented to me, I saw the lasting value in creating a genealogical tool to help people find their ancestors.
My days are spent poring over old documents, deciphering scrawl and chicken-scratch. If I am lucky I get a legibly written document, and if I am really lucky, I get a beautifully penned document. However they come to me I am humbled and honored to transcribe the names of so many people who deserve the dignity of identity.
Attend a workshop to learn how to use Unknown No Longer: A Virginia Slave Name Database. My colleague, Paige Newman, Assistant Archivist, and I will highlight some of their research findings and provide tips on how to navigate the database. Workshops are free and open to the public. Reservations are required and space is limited. To register for workshops online, visit www.vahistorical.org/news/unlworkshop.htm
Join us at:
The Virginia Historical Society on Saturday, Feb. 4 @ 11 a.m.
The Hampton History Museum on Monday, Feb. 6 @ 6 p.m.
The Lyceum: Alexandria’s History Museum on Tuesday, Feb. 21 @ 7 p.m.
The Staunton Library on Library on Wednesday, Feb. 22 @ 3 or 6:30 p.m.
Much thanks to Dominion for funding that made possible this project and the following workshops on how to use the database.
Dr. Lauranett Lee is the curator of African American History at the Virginia Historical Society.