How to look for records of... Slavery or slave owners
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
What do I need to know before I start?
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
To find a particular slave, you need the name of the owner. Even in the few colonies where slaves had surnames, there may be several people of that name.
The indexes in the slave registers sometimes only include the name of the person who provided the information (or ‘return’), not the owner.
There are no registers of slaves before 1812. The best place to find information about a slave before 1812 is in the private papers of the slave owner, or in records about the owner or his or her property. Papers might still be with the family or deposited in a local archive or library where the family lived or settled.
More and more archives in British and former British colonial dependencies are indexing and digitising information about slaves and slave owners.