Manumissions of St. Eustatius 1836-1862 now findable in genealogical database Wiewaswie

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The St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance has worked together with CBG Center for Family History to add the manumissions of St. Eustatius for the period 1836-1862 to the WieWasWie genealogical database.

Manumission means the conferment or self-purchase of freedom of enslaved Afrikans by their enslavers before the abolishment of the chattel slavery system. The official date for the abolishment of slavery in the former Dutch colonies was July 1,1863 but many of the enslaved Afrikans acquired or bought their freedom before that time.

“The motives for manumission were complicated and diverse, and have to be studied in more detail for St. Eustatius”, explains Alliance president Kenneth Cuvalay. “We’ve asked the CBG Center for Family History if they would work with us to make the manumissions available to the descendent community. They immediately agreed and together with volunteers the manumissions have been indexed and are now findable via the Wiewaswie database, freely available to everyone. This makes further research possible and it adds another source for family history for people with Afrikan roots in St. Eustatius.”

The data set contains the names of 121 people. Some names occur multiple times such as Daus, Landman, Newell, and Boswijk. You can search for both the name of the freed person and the name of the former enslaver. It is also possible to view the whole data set. To do this, use “Extensive search” and enter “Sint Eustatius” as place name, and then filter on document type “Slavery Source”. The original documents and online scans are available in the Dutch National Archive.

Writing the untold stories of our ancestors

Indexing the manumissions is part of the project “Remember Statia: Tracing Our Origins” now running on St. Eustatius with participants joining from not only St. Eustatius, but from St. Maarten, Curaçao, the Netherlands, USA, and even Australia. Target group are persons of Afrikan ancestry with roots in St. Eustatius.

After a three-part workshop “Searching the Archives” last week by two researchers of the CBG Center for Family History, the two-part workshop “Writing Your Family History” will start tomorrow. Presenter of the two workshops is writer and educator Marvin Hokstam, owner of Afro Magazine and Broos Institute for AfroEuropean Studies and Research. The Dutch Slavery Memorial Year grant of the Mondriaan Culture Fund partially funds the project.

The project is a result of the protests against the archaeological excavations in 2021 when the remains of 69 ancestors of the inhabitants of St. Eustatius were exhumed from the former Golden Rock plantation Afrikan burial ground. It is a community project in which the inhabitants of St. Eustatius write the untold stories of their ancestors.

The WieWasWie genealogical database (Dutch for Who Was Who) presents millions of records aggregated from a large number of Dutch archive organizations, like civil registration records, population registers, church registers and more. Website: https://www.wiewaswie.nl/en/