Nov 1, 2022

Collaborative Project Identifies Nearly 1,000 Slave Transactions in Macon, Georgia From 1823-65

From an article by Andrea Honaker and published in the Mercer University web site:

“Nine hundred and eighty slave transactions — and counting.

“For years, Bibb County deed books from the 1800s sat unopened, collecting dust inside the courthouse. But since 2018, a team of researchers has been studying and cataloging their contents, which include the sale and lease of enslaved people alongside transactions of land, horses and other property.

“Now, those records have been digitized and a searchable database is in the works, which will allow the untold stories of these African Americans to be shared and the public to learn more about the history of their ancestors as well as Macon. 

“’We have to be transparent, and this project is the epitome of transparency, whether we like it or not. We’re giving accurate primary source records of this county,’ said Bibb County Superior Court Clerk Erica L. Woodford, who holds a juris doctor degree. ‘We’re proud of the project and know it’s going to be of benefit to the community and the world.’

“Woodford, who earned bachelor’s degrees in African American studies and political science at Mercer in 1997, discovered slave records within the deed books while conducting inventory after taking office in January 2013. She shared her findings with Dr. Chester Fontenot Jr., director of Mercer’s Africana studies program and Baptist Professor of English. By 2018, the Clerk’s Office, Department of Africana Studies and Mercer University Libraries had launched an ambitious project to digitize Bibb County historical documents related to slavery.

“The team focused on property deeds from 1823, the year in which Bibb County was incorporated, to 1865, the year slavery was abolished. Led by Research Services Librarians Adam Griggs and Stephanie Miranda Harkins, Mercer library staff were instrumental in establishing the methodology of the research, Dr. Fontenot said.”

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