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.

Why Indexing Matters

Your contribution to indexing the records in the new free Footnote collection SC Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732-1872 makes an enormous difference. Here's why.

These records have only been available
  • at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History
  • on microfilm at three locations in South Carolina 
  • on microfilm, by order from your local Family History Center
At the front of each ledger microfilmed, there were index pages which list the names of estate holders, and the page number where that person's estate inventory was recorded. A typical Index page from a ledger looks like this:

Let's look at an example from this page. Here we see that the estate inventory for Nathaniel Heyward appears on Page 140:

This is the single Index entry for the estate inventory of Nathaniel Heyward.

Now let's go to the actual estate inventory and view a sample page. Here's page 143 of the estate inventory of Nathaniel Heyward:

Let's take a closer look at page 143 to see what's there:

There are many names here. In fact this estate inventory is 16 pages long and contains the names of 1,648 slaves on 15 plantations. The single Index entry for this record reads "Heyward, Nathaniel 140."

So you see, your contribution in volunteering to index 10 pages of this collection makes an enormous difference by restoring the names of thousands of enslaved ancestors to the historical record, and preserving their legacy for generations to come.

The 1,648 enslaved ancestors in this record stepped back into the light of history for one reason: Aaron Dorsey volunteered to index 10 pages of this remarkable record set.

Who will you find in YOUR 10 pages?

To volunteer, please CLICK HERE! We will cherish your contribution.
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