Birth registration of a slave in 1803, abandoned to the Overseers of the Poor by the slave owner.
New York State Slavery Records Index Launched by John Jay College

New York, NY, January 31, 2018John Jay College of Criminal Justice today announces the first New York Slavery Records Index, a publicly searchable compilation of records that identify individual enslaved persons and their owners, beginning as early as 1525 and ending during the Civil War. The index will help to deepen the understanding of slavery in the State of New York.

With over 35,000 records, the index was developed and is administered by John Jay professors Ned Benton and Judy-Lynne Peters along with a team of graduate students who are part of the College’s Master of Public Administration Programs. 

Professor Ned Benton and Judy-Lynne Peters
Professor Ned Benton and Judy-Lynne Peters

“This vast, public database will serve as an important research tool that will support information-based scholarship on slavery in New York and across the nation,” said Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College. “The launch of this index marks a significant contribution to understanding and remembering the country’s history of slavery and advances the College’s mission of educating for justice.”

The database can be searched at

Valencia McMillan, an MPA graduate _Forensic Accounting, examines a 200-year old invoice for the care of enslaved children, in the records of the Comptroller's Office at the NY State Archive
Valencia McMillan, an MPA graduate  Forensic Accounting, examines a 200-year old invoice for the care of enslaved children, in the records of the Comptroller';s Office at the NY State Archive

The index includes census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth certifications, manumissions, ship inventories, newspaper accounts, private narratives, legal documents and many other sources, such as:

  • 30,000 records naming slave owners across New York state
  • 1,400 birth certificates of enslaved persons
  • New York State Senators who owned slaves in 1790 and 1800
  • 550 advertisements seeking the capture and return of enslaved New Yorkers
  • 1,681 records of enslaved persons delivered by slave ships to the Port of New York from 1715-1765, including the names of the owners and investors
  • Almost 200 “Underground Railroad” fugitives who came to New York after escaping slavery from the South.


By bringing together information that until now has been largely disconnected and difficult to access, the database allows for searches that combine records from all indexed sources based on parameters such as the name of an owner, a place name, and date ranges. The index and the accompanying website is free and open to the public.

The site includes instructions on how to search the database. In addition, there are essays and articles based on analyses of data from the index. 

Media Coverage 

John Jay College Releases Searchable New York Slavery Records
February 1, 2018

NY Post
College compiles first-ever index of slaves and their owners in NY
February 1, 2018

New York Daily News, Fresno Bee, WGRZ
(Associated Press)
February 1, 2018
NYC college creates state's first slavery history database

WNBC 4 New York
College Launches New York State's First Slavery Records Index
January 31, 2018 

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations.  In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit