Catherine Pinkney, 92, looked over a 150-year-old slave dwelling during an event marking the restoration and preservation of the dwelling on May 9, 2005 in Upper Marlboro, Md. The dwelling, part of an active tobacco plantation in the mid 1800s, was to be restored and turned into a community center by developers who plan to build a subdivision in the area.
The Virginia Historical Society has launched a database of slave names drawn from its vast collection of information.
The site, Unknown No Longer, has 1,500 names and uses searchable keywords such as name, gender, location, occupation and plantation. The database also includes more than 250 digital images of original source documents. It includes those slaves had been taken out of Virginia by their owners.
"This database is the latest step by the Virginia Historical Society to increase access to its varied collections relating to Virginians of African descent," the website says. "Since its founding in 1831, the [Society] has collected unpublished manuscripts, a collection that now numbers more than eight million processed items."
It's free to use the database, which is funded with a $100,000 grant from Dominion Resources and The Dominion Foundation.
"It will take years to scour the millions of documents likely to contain the names of the enslaved," the site says. "Rather than wait, we want to launch Unknown No Longer as a work in progress."
Virginia held more slaves than any other state. The records date back to the 1700s.