The information available on slave manifests can vary, but generally includes the name of the ship, the ship’s master, the ports of departure and destination, and a list of slaves on board (prior to 1808 this information does not always name the slaves.
Following the Slave Trade Act of 1807, it was illegal to import slaves into the United States from “any foreign kingdom, place, or country.” Slaves could still be traded domestically, however. Therefore, ship manifests from 1808 generally include personal information for each slave on board (first name, sex, age, stature, and the name and residence of the owner/shipper), along with affirmation that the slave had been imported into the U.S. prior to 1808.
1. Voyages – The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
Explore information and statistics drawn from about 35,000 individual slaving expeditions between 1514 and 1866, including information about vessels, enslaved peoples, slave traders and owners, and trading routes. More »
2. New Orleans Slave Manifests, 1807–1860
The domestic slave trade transplanted approximately 1 million slaves from what was called the Upper South (primarily Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, North Carolina) to what was once called the Southwest (Alabama, Mississippi, Western Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas) between 1808, the year which the United States effectively abolished the importation of slaves and 1865, the year the Civil War ended. The full collection has been digitized and indexed on Ancestry.com (subscription required). A free partial online transcription covering inward manifests on microfilm rolls 1–3 (1818–1822) and 12 (1837–1839) is also available online from Afrigeneas. More »
3. Charleston (Inbound) Slave Manifests
Search by slave owner or slave name in these free online transcriptions of inward slave manifests submitted to the Collector of Customs at the Port of Charleston, South Carolina. Most slave manifests in this series are recorded on standard forms and include the name of the ship and its master, port of departure, port of destination, and a list of the slaves on board. For each slave, the manifests provide first name, sex, age, stature, name of shipper or owner, and shipper or owner’s place of residence. More »
4. U.S., Southeast Coastwise Inward and Outward Slave Manifests, 1790-1860
The arrival and departure of about 10,000 slaves through the port of Savannah, Georgia, as well as slave manifests for Beaufort, South Carolina, and Mobile, Alabama, can be accessed through this Ancestry.com database. An Ancestry.com subscription is required to view these records. More »
5. 1833 Slave Manifest for the Schooner LaFayette
A digital image of the manifest for the schooner LaFayette, transporting 83 slaves from Alexandria, Virginia, to Natchez, Mississippi, in 1833. Reproduced on Slate’s history blog from the book “Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection.” More »