Finding Freedom Project

A NHPRC Documenting Democracy Access to Historical Records Grant: The Maryland State Archives holds two essential types of records documenting freedom within its collection. The first are Manumissions, a legal document that frees an enslaved person from slavery on behalf of the slave holder. The second is a Certificate of Freedom, a document that came about after a 1805 General Assembly rule that hoped to identify free African Americans in the state, and to control the availability of freedom papers. The law required those who were born free, or those who received their freedom from a slave holder, to record proof of their status in the county court. These documents, found in 111 record series created by the counties, contain vital information about those who were enslaved. Everything from their names and ages, to the names of their slave holder, to the areas they were from and the physical descriptions of the recipient. The Maryland State Archives received an NHPRC Documenting Democracy Access to Historical Records Grant to digitize Manumission and Certificates of Freedom records. In addition, the records were uploaded and made available in the Legacy of Slavery searchable database.

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Manumissions by County

Allegany Anne Arundel Baltimore Baltimore City Calvert
Caroline Carroll Cecil Charles Dorchester
Frederick Garrett Harford Howard Kent
Montgomery Prince George's Queen Anne's Saint Mary's Somerset
Talbot Washington Wicomico Worcester  


Certificates of Freedom by County

Allegany Anne Arundel Baltimore Baltimore City Calvert
Caroline Carroll Cecil Charles Dorchester
Frederick Garrett Harford Howard Kent
Montgomery Prince George's Queen Anne's Saint Mary's Somerset
Talbot Washington Wicomico Worcester