The Florida Memory Website is an often overlooked resource when researching Florida ancestry. Florida Memory is a digital outreach program providing free online access to select archival resources from collections housed in the State Library and Archives of Florida. Florida Memory digitizes materials that illuminate the state’s history and culture.
Below are resources available on Florida Memory for researching your African-American genealogy in Florida:
Florida Militia Muster Rolls, 1826-1900
When speaking with Dr. Josh Goodman, the Archives Historian with the State Archives of Florida, he told us about their latest project — digitizing and transcribing 600 militia muster rolls from the 19th century, including a number of all-black units from the Reconstruction era.
According to the website, “these muster rolls, selected from three separate series of militia records in the State Archives’ holdings, are rosters of officers and men in Florida militia units dating from 1826 to about 1900. Some of the muster rolls were submitted by groups of volunteers asking to be recognized by the state government as militia units, while others are reports for units already in existence. A few of the earlier rolls document the activation of Florida militiamen for national service, particularly during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). Most of the documents, however, are not related to military service in any particular war.”
These muster rolls provide another database of people in specific places at specific times. Researching muster rolls can fill in the gaps between census years. This database is searchable by name, unit or place. Each image has an index of the names listed.
For further reading on Florida’s Black Militia, click here.
Webinar – Researching the Lives of Enslaved Ancestors
Dr. Josh Goodman hosted a webinar on tracing the lives on enslaved ancestors, available on YouTube. This hour and half video highlights many of the traditional and non-traditional resources for researching African-American ancestors.
Voter Registration Rolls, 1867-68
Another great resource on the Florida Memory website is the voter registration rolls of 1867-68. This valuable resource records the lists of individuals who registered to vote in the State of Florida between 1867 and 1868. These Reconstruction era lists are unique as they are the first to include African-Americans.
This database is searchable by name, place and race.
Florida Census Mortality Schedules
Coming soon to Florida Memory is a new database for the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 Florida Census Mortality Schedule. For the first time ever, the State Archives of Florida opened their indexing up to local genealogists and historians. This large collaborative project progressed very quickly. Indexing of the mortality schedules included line number, name, age, sex, race, whether the individual was enslaved, the slave owner and cause of death. Once available, this will be an amazing resource for those researching their ancestors.