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Emancipation Index

From 1804 to 1857, black people in Ohio had to register their freedom with the clerk of courts of common pleas in the county where they desired residency or employment. State law required this registration, and clerks of court were to keep register books containing a transcript of each freedom certificate or other written proof of freedom. Few of these registers have survived into the 20th century. As a direct result of the local records preservation program of the Ohio Historical Society and the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers, three and a part of a fourth of these registers were discovered and microfilmed at Special Collections & Archives, Wright State University Libraries, in the mid-1970s. The registers are from Greene, Logan, Miami, and Montgomery (part) counties. Each contains a wealth of historical information relating to a peculiar aspect of early Ohio and pre-1860 American history. In addition, genealogical researchers now have access to over 800 names.

In an effort to make some of the more significant information about individuals listed in the registers more accessible to researchers, a name abstract was created by Stephen Haller (Ohio Historical Society) and Robert H. Smith, Jr. (Wright State University) in 1977. That abstract is reproduced here. The authors abstracted from each register the following information: name and certificate number (if listed) of freed slaves, name of owner or guardian (if listed), date and county/state of officially recorded freedom, date and county of officially recorded presence in Ohio, additional information (age and family relationships), and the page number of the register in which the information is recorded. The owner's last name is used in parentheses where no other last name appeared in the register.

Researchers desiring more information should be aware of an abundance of social history documented in the full original texts of the individual freedom records, such as physical description of slaves, dates and places of birth, personal comments of owners, names of witnesses and other parties, and occasionally the owner's stated reasons for freeing his slaves.