US Black Heritage: Heritage Exchange Portal

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Surnames/tags: slavery black_heritage
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US Black Heritage Project Home Page

This is a landing page for the Heritage Exchange Program and will lead WikiTree members to the help pages they need for each situation.

What is the Heritage Exchange Program?

  • It's a process to standardize and categorize information and profiles in a way that makes connecting enslaved ancestors to their descendants easier.
  • It's a way for descendants of slave owners to share information to help the US Black Heritage Project connect enslaved ancestors to their family.

If you have questions not addressed here or if you want to discuss this process, go to our Heritage Exchange post and click the answer button.

For instructional videos to learn the Heritage Exchange system, see: USBH Instructional Videos.


How Do I Share Information With You?

Please email the information you have to the project's Heritage Exchange Program at wikitrees-usbh-exchange at (replace the word at with the @ symbol and smush the address together). Please include as much information as you can about what you are sending us. If you have a profile you wish to reference, please tell us the Wiki-ID so we can quickly find it.

I have a Document Listing Slaves. What Do I Do With It?

We would love if you would create profiles for the slaves listed.

When documents list the slaves by name, you can use this help page to create profiles: Documenting Enslaved People in WikiTree

If the slaves are only listed by age or description, please see this help page: Documenting Unnamed Enslaved Persons

If you would prefer to simply pass the information along to the Heritage Exchange Program for them to make use of, please email us at wikitrees-usbh-exchange at (replace the word at with the @ symbol and smush the address together). Please include as much information as you know and attach the document in your email.

How Do I Create Profiles for Slaves/Slave Owners?

Please read this help page for instructions on how to create the profiles: Documenting Enslaved People in WikiTree.

You need at least a first name before creating slave profiles.

What Last Name Do I Use For Slaves?

We don't use the last name of Unknown for those enslaved in the United States of America at WikiTree. Please read the help page Naming Conventions for Slaves for how to choose a placeholder surname until a documented name can be found.

If you have additional questions about these instructions or how to name people who were enslaved, please post your question in g2g and tag your question with black_heritage and slavery so project members will see it.

What Terms are Most Respectful?

The US Black Heritage Project uses the preferred terms of Slave Owner and Enslaved Ancestors on our documentation. We use Slave Owner/Slave for documentation headings.

The Project talks about this topic on a regular basis and we have created a help page with terms we would not like to see on profiles and others where there is a choice. This page was written with the help of descendants of enslaved ancestors based on what terms they prefer. This page will be updated as terminology evolves.

What if I Need A Workspace For My Slavery Research?

At WikiTree, we have workspaces called Space Pages. For documenting slavery by Slave Owner, please see Creating Slave Owner Space Pages for how to set them up. You can also create personal space pages, but these won't be part of the Heritage Exchange system.

Do I Need to Manage all New Profiles I Create?

No. If you create new slave owner and slave profiles and wish to orphan them, please do so. As long as they have the standard categories we've asked for, they'll be seen by the project. Please add the African-American Sticker using this code: {{African-American Sticker}} to all African-American and enslaved ancestor profiles before orphaning.

To orphan a profile, go to the privacy tab and click the "Remove Yourself" button.

How is Heritage Exchange Different From the Beyond Kin Method?

See Translating Beyond Kin to the WikiTree Method for the answer to this question.

Can the Project Assist Me With This Process?

The Heritage Exchange Team will be happy to help you learn the process of creating profiles and processing documents. Please message us at wikitrees-usbh-exchange at

If you just have a question or two, please ask on our post.

I Need a New Slavery Category Created

If you are a project member please ask in the USBH Project Google group or in the project's Discord channel. If you are not a project member, please ask on this post.

I'm Looking for Enslaved Ancestors

There are a few ways to see if your enslaved ancestor is on WikiTree

  1. Search for their name using the WikiTree search bar using their first name and slave owner's last name. If they had multiple slave owners, try under each last name.
  2. Check the category USBH Heritage Exchange, Linked to see if they are listed.
  3. If you know their slave owner, search for that person's profile and see if they are listed by name and if a profile is linked.

General guidance for your search:

I Want To Help Connect Enslaved Ancestors

The US Black Heritage Project would love to have you join us in our quest to create the largest online public database of connected enslaved ancestors. Please visit our Project page for a link to the most recent g2g join post. Ask to join the Heritage Exchange Team.

Heritage Exchange Links Summary

US Black Heritage Project Home Page

Comments: 14

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While trying to find more information on my ancestors in Amherst, Virginia and their parents, I came across names of slaves owned by several Higginbotham's in Amherst.

I match several Higginbothams: Moses, Joseph, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin, Aaron, and James. They are the sons of John Joseph Higginbotham and Frances Riley however, no direct link yet.

Only some of the slaves are mentioned on the Wikitree pages but not all.

posted by Kate Thompson
Ok, thank you! I added the information to our to-do spreadsheet :) The list is getting a bit long, it will be a few months until we get to this one, probably. Thanks again!
I've created a "Free Space Project" ( for interested persons to work on a collection of families associated with the Catoctin Furnace in Frederick County, Maryland. The Furnace opened about 1776 and closed in 1908; prior to the Civil war it employed both enslaved and free persons of color in iron manufacturing. Many of these families are interrelated. Two of the Project members are descendants, and the ancestry may well trace all the way back to an indentured Irish woman in colonial Maryland in the 1600's.

I'm seeking advice/recommendations on the best ways to relate to the US Black Heritage Project in support of your objectives. I'm personally Team Leader for the Province of Maryland in the Southern Colonies Project.

posted by Jack Day
Hi Jack, My main involvement with USBH is as a BioBuilder, so hopefully my answer will hit the highlights and key strategies that would include eligible persons who are being added to WikiTree as a result of your study. The best and simplest way to include "<state>, Free People of Color" would be through categorization and if they were known to be of African American descent, to add the tag the profile using [double squiggle bracket sticker: African-American Sticker]
US Black Heritage Project
... ... ... is a part of US Black heritage.
just below the Biography header, which will produce the profile sticker shown in this reply.

Example categorization of Free People of Color:

  • Category:Virginia, Free People of Color
  • Category:Maryland, Free People of Color

For enslaved persons, a highly detailed project page can be found at Documenting Enslaved People in WikiTree.

For advanced users, the key items to add would be
This enslaved ancestor's profile has a preliminary Last Name At Birth (LNAB) until a surname can be determined. Please see the US Black Heritage Naming Conventions for Slaves before merging or changing the LNAB.
[double squiggle bracket sticker: Slave LNAB, which produces the highlight box that shows up in this reply] if their family of origin is undocumented and the enslaver surname is substituted. (This sticker goes above the Biography header.)

... Within the newly created person's profile: 5. Add a = Slave Owner = heading and list the name(s) of the slave owner below it. 6. Add a = Research Notes = heading to place notes regarding any estimated birth dates, locations, and the use of the slave owner's names as well as anything else you might know about the person.

... Please add the following categories:

"USBH Heritage Exchange" "County, State, Slaves" (if they were enslaved in more than one location, add a category for each location)

These are the major ways that enslaved or Free Persons of Color persons can be incorporated into this project.

Best of luck to you in leveraging this important work.

Kind regards,


posted by Porter Fann
edited by Porter Fann
My GG Grandfather was James Alfred Truitt born 1795-1776 in Buncombe, NC married Sarah Hall. Son of Levi Morgan and Susanna Morgan Truitt. Came to Shelby CO Texas in 1839. He was a CONGRESSMAN for the Republic of Texas. James brought several slaves to Texas. They are said to be buried outside the fence of the Truitt Cemetery. Is there anyway we can trace their names? The slaves also helped clean our the Sabine River. My relatives was paid in land in the West Texas area. Thank you in advance, Carolyn Watkins Harrison
The best way to find them is to look for bills of sale, wills, and other court documents for the family. Emma
I found these marvelous sources, and they contain WAY too much information for me to try to utilize by myself. I've looked for a Space page for USBH sources, but haven't been able to locate one, so I'm going to share this link here and hope that somebody can pass it on as a source.

The State of Maryland has a fantastic online archive of state original documents that date from 1637 on. Part of that site is a section called "Legacy of Slavery in Maryland". Here's the link that that specific page. —

NOTE: You have to click the "Browse Collections" link at the top to see the collections available.

posted by Carole (Kirch) Bannes
edited by Carole (Kirch) Bannes
I've looked through things and I think I have another source to look at. My degree is history and I was involved in a project at the University of Houston back in the mid-2000s. At the time, they were looking at building a database of slaves who were brought over on ships. Each ship had a manifest, with listings of the "cargo" with captain of the ship names, sometimes with loading place/unloading place information, name of the ship, and even, if they were already "purchased," a name of the person who would be receiving the slave. These are microfilmed in many genealogical centers like the Clayton Library in Houston. That's where I found information.

Another resource. There was a requirement for Catholics to have their slaves baptized. These records are in the diocese archives for the area where you are researching. There are records for Southeast Texas in the Galveston-Houston Catholic Diocese offices. These have the names of the owners, where they lived, names of the priest doing the sacrament, the sponsors for the person baptized, and even some names and birthdates of the slaves.

Also, some library archives or church archives will have files on other denominations. In Galveston, the Rosenburg Library Archives have files with letters from local slave owners to the churches with permission for that slave to be allowed to go to church services. These have names of the slaves and are signed by the owners. Avenue L Baptist Church had several of these letters.

Interesting note: There was a plantation owner, Farnifala and Laura Green, who had a 35-acre plantation on the island that had over 20 slaves. This land was located between the gulf shore and Green's Bayou west of the city of Galveston. The family was Catholic and that record is in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston archives. The husband died and Laura sold the plantation to Bishop Claude Dubuis Catholic Church in 1874 and the home was changed to an orphanage. This was the orphanage, that 26 years later, was completely washed away by the 1900 storm, killing all the nuns and children with the exception of two boys who clung to a tree during the storm.

posted by Barbara (Brown) Denney
edited by Barbara (Brown) Denney
Thank you so much Barbara for your information, it is very helpful. You've provided resources I would have never thought of.
Will of Clementine Stillwell, Arkansas County Arkansas, Arkansas, 1825 - 3 slaves

posted by Joyce Vander Bogart
Hi Joyce, thanks for the will information. I will be working on a profiles for Clementine and the mentioned slaves as part of my USBH Exchange PATH "qualifications", with Elaine's guidance.
posted by Katie (Cooper) Bryant
You're welcome! I'm glad someone can use this tidbit of information.
posted by Joyce Vander Bogart
Working on "Some Families in Berkshire County who weren't white"

I found Charles Augustus Frye. According to his obituary, born in Columbia County, Maryland, a slave to Mr. Dalam. He's on Family Search,

posted by Joyce Vander Bogart
edited by Joyce Vander Bogart
I made a profile for Charles Frye, and am seeing if I can find the right Mr. Dalam. Thanks, Joyce!