Was my maternal great-great grandmother a white woman or an African American slave? Based on the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Census, she was both. In the 1880 Census, she was listed as Mulatto, aged 21 and working as a chamber maid.
Was I surprised by the variations on race in the census? No and neither should you as often, African Americans were either not counted or misidentified by enumerators.
An estimated 4,400 U.S. Marshals and Assistant Marshals used eyeball evidence to record the race, gender and other household factors based on their government and Congressional directives in 1850 and 1860.
Beginning with the 1870 Census, the household individuals were allowed to speak for themselves regarding all of the critical data needed to complete individual records.
Check out Good Genes Genealogy Services’ October 2021 e-book for easy-to-follow tips on how you can locate your once enslaved ancestors. Become a genealogy hunter to keep alive the tireless, selfless work of our ancestors.