Welcome to the Restore the Ancestors Project!

This project is a collaboration between Fold3 (Formerly Footnote.com), the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, FamilySearch and Lowcountry Africana, to digitize every surviving estate inventory for Colonial and Charleston South Carolina from 1732 to 1872, as well as selected Bills of Sale for the same period, in a FREE collection.

When the project is complete, the names of more than 30,000 enslaved ancestors from Charleston and surrounding counties will be restored to history in a free online collection, preserved for generations to come.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Let's Go to the Tote Board!

Hello RTA Friends,
     Well, it's hard to believe it's been more than a year since the Restore the Ancestors project was born. The project launched in July of last year and since that time, we have made great strides in working through indexing the collection, because of your hard work and heartfelt contributions in indexing pages.
     We thought it might be fun to go to the Tote Board to see exactly what we have accomplished. The collection contains 22,037 images, and indexing is 64% complete. Ready for totals?

Number of Pages Indexed

Number of Individual Annotations

Here's where it gets astounding. We have made 393,522 annotations on 14,103 pages, with:

Number of Volunteers

We Have Accomplished So Much! Absolutely Incredible.

And here's what the numbers above really mean:

Plantations Documented

Names of Enslaved Ancestors and Free African Americans Brought Into the Historical Light.

We thank you, our wonderful volunteers, for the hard work and dedication that has turned Restore the Ancestors into the Mouse That Roared. The Ancestors must be so proud!

Monday, August 1, 2011

An Amazing Gift: William and Book T

Greetings Friends!
     We've been rather quiet lately but working away behind the scenes and making great progress on indexing records. Thank you so much for all of the effort you have dedicated to making this a productive summer at Restore the Ancestors, and bringing forth the names and stories of Lowcountry ancestors.
     Incredible volunteer William just finished indexing Book T (1751-1768) - ALL of it! All 648 pages. We knew he was awful quiet this summer, (LOL) but had no idea that it was because he was mowing his way through Book T. Happily, gratefully shocked almost describes our reaction. Amazed, humbled, blessed ... now we're approaching it. We need more superlatives...
     William posted a comment on the Our Volunteers Speak page. Check out what he wrote while we ponder his incredible accomplishment: http://www.restoretheancestors.com/2010/08/our-volunteers-speak.html. Thank you so much William!

Peace and Blessings,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Restore the Ancestors Welcomes Felicia R. Mathis to Advisory Board

The New Year is off to a great start at the Restore the Ancestors project!

Since the project began 8 months ago, we have been blessed by you(!) the kind, generous and enthusiastic volunteers who have responded to the call for help. We've made new friends and come to know old friends even better. Together, we're mowing our way through indexing the incredible free Footnote collection SC Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale. We thank you all so much for your contributions to this enormous volunteer effort. :0)

Today, we are pleased and honored to welcome Felicia R. Mathis to the Restore the Ancestors advisory board. Felicia will join George Geder and Angela Y. Walton Raji in raising awareness of the effort and sharing wisdom to guide the project as we go forward.

Felicia shares her own genealogy research on her blog Echoes of My Nola Past and you can find her on Twitter at @MyNolaHeritage, where she shares lots of great information on genealogy research.

In the months since she joined the project, Felicia has taken the project into her heart and stepped into a leadership role wherever she saw a need - spreading the word about the project, greeting each new volunteer personally, following the project's overall progress, sharing mad love and gratitude for our wonderful volunteers.

We are very honored to welcome Felicia to the Restore the Ancestors advisory board. Welcome, F!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays from Restore the Ancestors!

To the wonderful volunteers who make the Restore the Ancestors project possible, we wish you very Happy Holidays! We'll be on a brief hiatus until the New Year. We will see you then.

Thank you so much for all you do, from the crew at Restore the Ancestors!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle: Bills of Sale Open New Research Windows for Estate Inventories

The new free Footnote collection SC Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale contains estate inventories which span the years 1732-1872. Through your generosity as volunteers, we have been working since July to index the estate inventories.

The inventories are already opening incredible research windows for discovering enslaved and free South Carolina ancestors.

We have now started indexing the bills of sale in the collection, which span the same years as the estate inventories. Even at a first glance, we are amazed at how they mesh with the estate inventories and provide additional information and leads for further research.

From the Estate Inventory of Lucretia Radcliffe, 1821 indexed by Sandra J. Taliaferro, we learned the names and ages of 277 enslaved ancestors on three plantations in Colleton County, SC.

The bills of sale for enslaved families sold from the estate reveal many more details about the slaves and slaveholders named in the inventory.

  • Remarkably, the bill of sale to Thomas Smith Grimke reveals that the enslaved ancestors he purchased in 1821 were three generations of a single family: "Peter & his wife Sophy and their two children called John & Nancey and their grandchild named Eliza the daughter of Nancy."
  • The estate inventory includes 15 slaves belonging to the estate of Elizabeth Piatt (also rendered Pyatt, Pyeatt). Bills of sale reveal that Lucretia Radcliffe was the Executrix of Piatt's estate. 
  • We learn from bills of sale that Alexander B. Wilson purchased 69 slaves from the estate in 1822, and subsequently sold 69 slaves to Lionel H. Kenedy in 1825. 
  • The bill of sale to Lionel H. Kenedy also suggests that there were family ties among Lucretia Radcliffe and Sophia Shepheard and Alexander B. Wilson (two of the purchasers from Radcliffe's estate), and includes a specific reference to the book and page number of a marriage settlement filed in 1816, 9 years before Kenedy's purchase. 

The estate inventories and bills of sale in this free Footnote collection are each remarkable in their own right, but together they open important windows for further research. And it is your volunteer efforts that are bringing these incredible records into the historical light.

We at the Restore the Ancestors Project thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you are accomplishing, and we know the Ancestors must be smiling.

We wish you a Joyous Holiday Season! 

Please click here to view the Estate Inventory of Lucretia Radcliffe: Almonbury, Cockfield and Harrison's Plantations, 1821.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We Are Thankful for You

This Thanksgiving is very special, we have so much to be thankful for at Restore the Ancestors.

Quite simply, we are thankful for YOU.

For all of you who have come and made this project a success, 10 pages of indexing at a time. 10 pages at a time, you have now indexed more than 4,600 pages. In those pages you have made 184,791 annotations. You have turned this small indexing project into the mouse that roars, and we are sincerely grateful for your contributions.

We are thankful for Angela Y. Walton-Raji and George Geder, our advisory board members who have worked so hard to make this project a reality.

For Cheryl Palmer, our very first volunteer, who patiently and cheerfully worked through startup technical difficulties.

For Carol Wilkerson and Thomas MacEntee, who have poured their hearts into raising awareness of the project.

For Felicia Mathis, who stepped into a leadership role and makes it a point to thank every volunteer claiming their Ancestors badge.

For Alana Thevenet, our Co-Director, who coordinates the overall indexing progress, frets over every new microfilm that's posted for indexing, and blazes through pages like nobody's business.

For Penny Worley, Sheri Fenley and Khalisa Jacobs, who came on Day 1 and have stayed ever since.

For everyone who has come and indexed 10 pages and taken great care with the records.

Ultimately, it's not about pages and annotations, it's about restoring the names of tens of thousands of enslaved ancestors to the historical record.

For the hours and the heart and soul you have poured into restoring the ancestors, we thank you with all our hearts, and we wish you a safe, warm and happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for YOU.  :0)

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Did 50 Badge

Introducing ... the I Did 50 Badge!

Did you index 10 pages of SC Estate Inventories, then decide to stay and index more? We are so very grateful if you did, but until now we have not had a special way to thank you for your contribution. Well now we do! If you have indexed 50 or more pages, you can proudly claim your I Did 50 badge with our sincere gratitude.

Here is another nifty little graphic you can post on your blog or website:

We thank the following volunteers who have indexed 50 pages or more:

Felicia R. Mathis
Fran Ellsworth
Jeanette Williams
Jennifer Stokes
Jessica Keifer
Kristin Williams
Leslie Ann Ballou
Lori English
Sandra J. Taliaferro
Vicky Daviss-Mitchell
Vivian Nicholson
Whitney McKim

Sincere thanks for your contribution,  from the crew at Restore the Ancestors!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Volunteer Discoveries, Week Ending Oct 15

Check out the amazing documents our volunteers discovered this week! Many, many thanks to you, our fabulous volunteers!

Enslaved Ancestors on 4 Plantations of James McPherson, Beaufort, SC, 1834 Indexed by Sandra J. Taliaferro

Slaves in the Estate of William Small, St James Santee, Charleston, SC 1834 Indexed by Sandra J. Taliaferro

106 Slaves in the Estate of Arnoldus Bonneau, Charleston, SC, 1820 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis

206 Slaves in the Estate of James Clark, Edisto Island, SC, 1820 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis

416 Slaves, Estate of Thomas Horry, Charleston and Georgetown, SC, 1820 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis

Slaves in the Estate of Alexander Robert Chisolm, SC and GA, 1827 Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis

In these 6 documents, the names of more than 1,000 enslaved ancestors have been restored to the historical record. Thank you San and Felicia!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thank You to These Volunteers Who Finished Their 10!

We are so happy to thank the following volunteers who have finished their 10 and claimed their Ancestors Badges!

Carol (@webduck on Twitter)

Michael Daugherty

Robin Foster (@savingstories on Twitter)

Sandra Taliaferro (@sjtaliaferro on Twitter)

Thomas MacEntee (@geneabloggers on Twitter)

Please wear your Ancestors Badges proudly, with our sincere thanks!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Week's Volunteer Document Discoveries!

Here is a list of documents that YOU (!) our wonderful volunteers, discovered this week! Amazing discoveries just keep coming and all because of YOUR hard work! We cherish your contribution.

You may have noticed Alana's name on many document discoveries. Alana Thevenet is the Co-Director of Lowcountry Africana and the Africana Heritage Project. She now adds Indexing Coordinator Extraordinaire to her list of accomplishments!

Very many thanks to Felicia Mathis, Robin Foster and Khalisa Jacobs for their hard work this week, and their wonderful document discoveries!

This Week's Discoveries:

Slaves at the Chachan Plantation of Francis Cordes, Berkeley, SC, 1856 Indexed by Alana
173 Slaves at Spring Plains Plantation of Francis Cordes, Sumter, SC, 1856 Indexed by Alana
Slaves in the Estate of Mary Price, Charleston, SC, 1855 Indexed by Alana
4 Generations of Slaves on Motte and Broughton Plantations, Berkeley, SC Indexed by Felicia R. Mathis
Sale of Enslaved Ancestors, Estate of Daniel G Joye, Charleston, SC, 1853 Indexed by Robin Foster
Sale of Slaves in the Estate of Robert M. Allen, Charleston, SC, 1840 Indexed by Felicia Mathis
135 Enslaved Ancestors at the White Hall Plantation of Thomas Porcher, 1843 Indexed by Alana
Enslaved Ancestors, Goshen Plantation of Thos Porcher, Berkeley, SC, 1843 Indexed by Alana
306 Slaves in the Estate of John J Pringle, Georgetown, SC, 1843 Indexed by Alana
Slaves at Eldorado and Fannymead Plantations of Mrs. F.M Pinckney, SC, 1843 Indexed by Alana
Slaves at Fairfield and Moreland Plantations of Thos Pinckney, Berkeley, SC Indexed by Khalisa Jacobs
John Carmille of Charleston Seeks to Free His Enslaved Wife & Children Indexed by Alana

Peace and Blessings,
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