Digital Collection Highlight: Confederate Slave Payrolls

The National Archives recently completed the digitization of their Confederate Slave Payroll collection.

These rare documents record the names of enslaved individuals during a time when their names were often excluded. While the collection includes records from all southern states, the majority are from North Carolina and Virginia.

The following is a snippet from the National Archives newsroom, “For years, the Confederate Army required owners to loan their slaves to the military. From Virginia to Florida, the enslaved conscripts were forced to dig trenches and work at ordnance factories and arsenals, mine potassium nitrate to create gunpowder, or shore up forts.

The Confederate Quartermaster Department created the payrolls for slave labor on Confederate military defenses. After the end of the Civil War, the Federal War Records Office arranged, indexed, and numbered the documents.

The rolls show the period covered, the entity or person that employed the slaves working for the Confederacy, the place of service, the name of owner, the name and occupation of the hired enslaved person, the time employed, rate of wages, amount paid, and the signature of the person receiving the money (usually the owner or an attorney).”

Continue reading at the National Archives Newsroom

View the entire collection of Confederate slave payrolls in the National Archives online catalog.

Learn more about Confederate slave payrolls at the links below:

Civil War Confederate Slave Payroll Records – NGS Magazine
Confederate Slave Payrolls – National Archives Catalog – Family Search Wiki Article

Header photo citation: Slave Payroll, No Location or Commanding Officer Identified (No. 1). Confederate Slave Payrolls, 1874-1879 (National Archives Identifier 143509120).