Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva's Black History

Source Information

Virginia Freedom Suits, 1723-1860 (Library of Virginia African American Narratives project)

Manumission & Freedom • 48 Records • Uploaded November 1, 2021 • Data Website: www.virginiamemory.com

Freedom suits are law suits initiated by enslaved people seeking to gain their freedom. This collection includes petitions, records of suits, depositions, affidavits, and wills. They record enslaved peoples’ arguments for freedom, how the individual came to be enslaved, ancestry of the enslaved person, and relationships between enslaved individuals and enslavers. Enslaved men and women sued for emancipation in freedom suits based on the following: they were descendant(s) of a free Black female, sometimes a Native American woman; failure of enslaver(s) to abide by the 1778 slave nonimportation act; or claimed to have been freed by their enslaver(s) by deed of emancipation or last will and testament.

This source (and description) was extracted from data provided under Creative Commons from the Library of Virginia’s VIRGINIA UNTOLD: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN NARRATIVE project. The Library’s African American Narrative project aims to provide greater accessibility to pre-1865 African American history and genealogy found in the rich primary sources in its holdings.

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Fields Included

The list below shows the data fields included in this source. If a field is marked as Indexed, it is searchable.

  • File Name
  • Year Indexed
  • First Name Indexed
  • Middle Name Indexed
  • Surname Indexed
  • Alias Indexed
  • Additional Plaintiffs Indexed
  • Defendant's First Name Indexed
  • Defendant's Middle Name Indexed
  • Defendant's Surname Indexed
  • Additional Defendants Indexed
  • Slave Owners Indexed
  • Plaintiff's Claim Indexed
  • Freedom Indexed
  • Additional Slave Names Indexed
  • Additional Free Black Names Indexed
  • Deponents/Affiants Indexed
  • Additional Documents Indexed
  • See Also Indexed
  • Processor's Notes Indexed
  • EAD
  • Locality Indexed
  • Source
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