LA Freed Slaves Data on Slave Biographies

Louisiana Freed Slaves Data Now Available on Slave Biographies

Dr. Brian Mitchell teams up with Matrix and the Department of History to publish data on almost 3,000 freed slaves from Antebellum New Orleans.


MSU Matrix Center for the Digital Humanities and the Department of History are pleased to announce the publication online of data about almost 3,000 freed slaves that were living in the city of New Orleans in the decades preceding the Civil War. The “Free Blacks” dataset was created from The Mayor’s Register of Free Blacks in the City of New Orleans from 1840 to 1864. Dr. Mitchell, of the University of Arkansas Little Rock, transcribed and translated all of the first volumes of French text. The data was also isolated into fields to lead the user to a variety of other data sources in the city relating to the individuals within. For example, a user can look at the number of manumissions from the same notary or from the same time period. The database is a finding aid for those collections, it list specific notaries and dates of filing, specific baptism records, and has been correlated to specific emancipation records were applicable.


All of this research was self-funded by Dr. Brian Mitchell, who is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He has now lived in Arkansas for nearly ten years. He teaches in the History Department at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and his interests include African American Antebellum History, free black communities, and Urban History. He is currently working on several digital projects which pertain to free blacks in the Antebellum South and commemoration of the 1919 Elaine Riot.


Dr. Mitchell’s “Free Blacks” dataset is the third collection in Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network ( This website is an open access data repository of information on the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic World. It includes the names, ethnicities, skills, occupations, and illnesses of individual slaves. Users of the website can access three different data sets: one about slaves in Maranhão, Brazil, one about slaves in colonial Louisiana, and another about freed slaves in Antebellum Louisiana. They can download datasets, search for ancestors, and run statistical analysis. Matrix and the MSU History Department are excited to collaborate with Dr. Mitchell’s to make this important information accessible to both researchers and the general public on the Slave Biographies website.