Slavery Era Birth Records of Black Children


Update 2023:

The Scarlet and Black research team has now scanned the full book of Middlesex County birth records of Black children. Hundreds of birth records have been integrated into our new database New Jersey Slavery Records. You can browse the full book by page number. See the guide to Middlesex County slavery records for more information about conducting research using these records.

Collection Description:

This collection contains a sampling of birth records for African American children born in bondage in Middlesex County in the early nineteenth century. Beginning on July 4, 1804, slaveholders had to report to the county clerk when an enslaved mother in their household gave birth to a child. The county clerk then recorded the births in a bound volume. These county records were necessary to prove the child's age and eligibility for freedom at age 21 (for female children) or age 25 (for male children) under the provisions of the 1804 Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery.

The Middlesex County Register of Black Children is now held at the Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives. Three dozen birth records from this book have been digitized and fully transcribed here. Scarlet and Black researchers are now in the process of creating a complete dataset of births based on this book.

Many trustees and benefactors of Queen’s College (later Rutgers College) appear in these records as owners of black women and children, including John Neilson, Abraham Blauvelt, James Schureman, Robert Boggs, Gertrude Parker, and James Parker.

Collection Items

Birth record for Katy or Catharine, daughter of Hannah, reported by slaveholder Abraham Dunham
Slaveholder Abraham Dunham reports that Hannah, an enslaved woman, gave birth to daughter Katy or Catharine on November 27, 1804. For more about Abraham Dunham (1750-1826) and the many people that he enslaved, see our New Jersey Slavery Records…

Birth record for Aaron, reported by slaveholder Elijah Voorhies
Slaveholder Elijah Voorhies reports that an enslaved woman in his household gave birth to a boy named Aaron on March 19, 1805. The name of the mother is not mentioned in the record.

Birth record for Sal, daughter of Florough, reported by slaveholder Matthew Van Dike
Slaveholder Matthew Van Dike reports that an enslaved woman named Florough gave birth of a girl named Sal on December 8th, 1805.
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