Court Slave Records for DC

Records: 7,792 · Complete: 100%


Records of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia Relating to Slaves, 1851-1963. NARA Publication M433.

Images from this microfilm publication reproduce all the records relating to slavery in the District of Columbia that were kept by the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia. These records include emancipation papers, 1857-63, manumission papers, 1851-63, and case papers relating to fugitive slaves, 1851-63.

An act of April 16, 1862, which abolished slavery in the District of Columbia, required loyal owners of freed slaves to file schedules of their slaves by July 15, 1862, in order to claim compensation. A supplementary act of July 12, 1862, permitted schedules to be filed by slaves whose former owners had neglected to file. The act also granted freedom to slaves whose owners lived outside the District of Columbia and who, with the owners' consent, were employed within the District after April 16, 1862.

The emancipation papers consist of these schedules, usually with notes giving dates when certificates of freedom were issued to former slaves. The manumission papers, 1851-63, record the voluntary freeing of slaves by their owners and in general they consist of schedules similar to those in the emanicipation papers.

Included in the court's records are a series of papers relating to fugitive slaves, 1851-63. Many of these cases contain only the warrants for arrest; others contain papers relating to proof of ownership.

The descriptive pamphlet for this title, published by NARA, is available here.