New Jersey Slavery Records is a searchable database that documents the history of slavery in our communities.

Receipt to Jacob Van Dike for Harry, who was captured and reenslaved during the Revolution

Henry (Harry) Staats joins the African Association

Explore Records

At the core of our database are records of events in the lives of enslaved people, such as births, sales, manumissions, and running for freedom. The EVENTS browsing page is the main gateway into the database, and it allows you to search and filter information by event type, date, location, name, sex, and age of the participant.

You can explore PERSON profile records to identify persons of African descent, enslavers, and other groups of people who interacted with enslaved persons, such as government officials, estate executors, and jailers. Person profiles provide biographical notes and link the individual to relevant events, places, and family members in the database. Person profiles also show connections between enslaved persons and their enslavers and make it possible to identify related people in the household. While viewing a person's profile, be sure to check the section marked "Linked resources" where you can expand a list of linked events that involve this participant.

Start with PLACES to learn about New Jersey counties, towns, and historical sites that appear in our database.

All events in our database are documented with sources. A source citation is provided at the top of each event record, and most citations include a link to a transcript or to a digital fascimile of the document. Many links will lead you to digitized sources that we have published on our website (some links will lead you to another website where you can view the image in a different digital archive). You can use the SOURCES page to browse all of our digitized sources. Once you open a specific source record, look at the section marked "Linked resources" where you can expand a list of linked events that cite this particular document.

To learn about the types of records we have indexed to date, see Database Scope.

Recently added features

Runaway ad for Nance

Runaway Advertisements

We are working to add data about freedom seekers whose stories are documented in runaway advertisements. Undergraduate research assistants Kate Jackson and Xandria McKinley have been combing through newspapers to transcribe advertisements and index the names and locations mentioned. Our partners at the Princeton & Slavery Project also submitted a set of runaway advertisements related to the Princeton area.

To explore these stories, go to the EVENTS browsing page, use the Event Type drop-down menu and select Freedom seeking. This will show you all events where a Black person ran away from their enslaver or broke out of jail. Related event types include Capture and Jailing. When a person was apprehended and imprisoned as a suspected runaway, the jailkeeper would typically publish an advertisement notifying the public of the arrest.

Digital Maps

Our team is now working to create a series of maps that will allow you to explore records by location. Check out our new Map of Events, published in May 2024. This map allows you to filter records by Event Type and provides detailed information about each event.

Showcasing Student Work

Check out the map created by our undergraduate research assistant Saketh Mandayam. This interactive map provides a snapshot of birth, manumission, and freedom seeking events that we have added to the database as of March 2024. It also visualizes population data by county using statistics from the 1800 U.S. Census.

Sussex (and Warren) County Slavery Records

Undergraduate research assistants Daniel Dias and Saketh Mandayam have reviewed and indexed Sussex County birth certificates of enslaved chidlren from digitized microfilm records. Since the territory of present-day Warren County was historically part of Sussex until 1824, records related to Warren County communities are also included in this collection.

Check out the guide to Sussex County Slavery Records for details.

Middlesex County Slavery Records

We have scanned and indexed bound volumes of manumission certificates, removal certificates, and birth records from Middlesex County.

Check out the guide to Middlesex County Slavery Records for details.

Interstate Slave Trade and Kidnapping Documents

We have published a collection of removal certificates and newspaper articles that document kidnappings and human trafficking in New Jersey in the early 19th century. These records highlight the machinations of Judge Jacob Van Wickle's slave trading ring in Middlesex County and the practice of kidnapping Black people in New Jersey for sale to the Southerns states.

Check out Understanding Interstate Slave Trade & Kidnapping Documents for details.

Rutgers and Slavery

We have created a special index for Rutgers affiliates and namesakes and a virtual campus tour related to the themes of the Scarlet and Black project.

Check out our Rutgers & Slavery topic guide for details.