Bermuda Slave Registers from 1821 and 1834
The Ombudsman for Bermuda, Arlene Brock, has made available two extensive databases made from the 1821 and 1834 Slave Registers which are held in the Bermuda Archives. The original hand-written Registers were created to facilitate compensation for slave-owners when the slaves would be emancipated. They provide a unique record and valuable research tool for many people who are tracing family or community history.
The databases were developed in searchable Excel format by Dr. Virginia Bernhard of the University of St. Thomas in Houston. They set out the names of owners, the total number of slaves and sex of the owners, the names of slaves, their sex, colour and work. Sadly they do not record the ages and birth places of the slaves, which are therefore only available from the originals on microfilm in the Bermuda Archives. Dr. Bernhard wanted to make these research tools available to the public, and the Bermuda Ombudsman has done so by releasing them to the Trust and two other organisations in Bermuda. In turning these databases over to the Ombudsman, Dr. Bernhard stated: “The Slave Registers are such a treasure. I have no objection to making the databases public – this is my way of saying thank you to Bermuda “. However, she stressed: “these are academic working lists. They are not perfect – there are some gaps and spelling errors”. The Archives are developing their own Slave Register database, but in the meantime the databases developed by Dr Bernhard will serve as useful tools for researchers.