I often wonder what African American descendants researching Slave Ancestry could learn about our Ancestors and heritage if descendants of every slave owning family shared their research data OR donated legacy documents to a repository for public consumption? What could we learn if our own families had preserved Great Grandma’s bible and funny childhood tales or shared freely the rare, coveted Ancestor photo or cloaked family “secret”?
When I visited Duke University Rubenstein Rare Document & Manuscript Library last November I *thought* I knew what to expect. I’d been hoping to touch the collection since discovering it online in 2009, so at least I knew what was “physically” there.
But how could I have known the shock and multitude of answers contained in Samuel WINGFIELD’s plantation ledger? Or known how much seeing and touching the names of my Ancestors branded on those ancient papers would mean to me?
Had it not been for Mrs. Alexander BAIRD’s August 1990 submission to Duke’s Special Collections Library, I’d never know the weight and financial yield of my WINGFIELD Ancestors labor or the names deserving to be called and brought home.
I still don’t know Mrs. BAIRD’s relationship to the WINGFIELDS. I don’t really care. It doesn’t matter. What does is that some 14 years ago she had the forethought to make sure history that’s irreplaceable could rest in a place dedicated to preservation.
I’ve begun talks with Spelman […]