What are Manumission Registers?

And more importantly, how do you find them?

They are registers of free African Americans living in Ohio prior to the Civil War. Those that have survived are a rich genealogical and historical resource.

The book Registers of Blacks in the Miami Valley: A Name Abstract,1804-1857 by Stephen Haller and Robert Smith, Jr., provides the following information about the registers:

    “From 1804 to 1857, black people in Ohio had to register their freedom papers 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 (see Laws of Ohio 1804, page 63-66; 1833, page 22; 1857, page 186). Few of these registers have survived to the 20th century.”
Rhoda Jones near her cabin near Ripley, Ohio.  She is reported to have been a participant in the Underground Railroad.

Rhoda Jones near her cabin near Ripley, Ohio. She is reported to have been a participant in the Underground Railroad.

The Ohio Historical Society holds copies of the manumission registers for several counties:

Belmont County
Includes the years 1808-1854.
Call Number State Archives Series 6786
Location GR10,00 (microfilm), LGRVF 10/7

Clinton County
Includes the years 1838-1861.
Call number State Archives Series 5384
Location GR1546 (microfilm)

Greene County
Includes the years 1804-1857.
Call number State Archives Series 5536
Location GR1565 (microfilm)

Logan County
Includes the years 1804-1857.
Call number State Archives Series 5755 and Series 5756
Location GR1565 (microfilm)

Miami County
Includes the years 1804-1857.
Call number State Archives Series 5827
Location GR1565 (microfilm)

Montgomery County
Includes the years 1804-1857.
Call number State Archives Series 5869
Location GR1565 (microfilm)

Pickaway County
Includes the years 1819-1848.
Call number State Archives Series 3633
Location GR5526 (microfilm); BV10,023

Ross County
Includes the years 1804-1855.
Call number State Archives Series 6039
Location GR1564 (microfilm)

To find out more about each series search for the records our Online Collection Catalog. Use the Manuscripts, Audio Visual, and State Archives database and type the call number into the search box. For example, if you were interested in Belmont County, you would type: State Archives Series 6786.

We also have the following publications, which have information that may have been compiled from the county manumission registers.

Title:Record of black and mulatto persons in Jackson County, Ohio. A record of manumissions and registrations of Negro and mulatto persons filed, according to Ohio law, in the office of the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, Jackson County, Ohio, for the period from 1818 to 1854. Transcribed from the original record book now in the library of Dr. Gwyn A. Parry, Jackson, Ohio.
Call number 326.8 J139r

Title: Records of manumitted black and mulatto persons 1816-1854, Virginia, North Carolina, and Jackson Co., Ohio
Call number MIC 93 (microfilm)

Title: Register of Black, mulatto, and poor persons in four Ohio counties, 1791-1861 / Joan Turpin.
Call number R 929.3771 T863r 1985

Title: Registers of Blacks in the Miami Valley : a name abstract, 1804-1857 / by Stephen E. Haller, Robert H. Smith, Jr.
Call number R 929.1 H154r

All of the records and books listed above are available for use in the Society’s Research Room on the third floor of the Ohio History Center at 800 E. 17th Avenue in Columbus. We are open 10 AM to 5 PM, Wednesday-Saturday.

If the county that you are researching is not among those listed above, you contact the following organizations to ask if they are aware of their county’s registers existing today.

*County Clerk of Courts

*County Public Library

*County Genealogical Society

*County Historical Society

*Wright State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives

*Bowling Green State University Libraries, Center for Archival Collections

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