The Enslaved People Of Arlington, Virginia: A Spreadsheet

Data overview

This spreadsheet is a work in progress. Though most available sources have been probed, the list is not exhaustive. For instance, more complete census information from 1830, 1840, 1850 will be needed to expand on the data we’ve captured. In addition, due to Arlington’s history of jurisdictional changes and shifting borders, the data may contain or be missing the names of some Arlington enslavers and enslaved people whose residences overlapped with neighboring Fairfax and parts of Alexandria County.  


Browse the embedded Google Sheet (below) or download the data to use locally:


In compiling this data, we took inspiration from Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade and when possible we used the data model developed for their project, which you can read about here. In general, this means that our data describes events—such as a birth or death, a sale or an emancipation—and these events are associated with people, both enslavers and the enslaved, and with sources. The list of possible event and source types can be found in the spreadsheet embedded above.

One challenge with creating (and using) this data is following a single individual through multiple events. We have not yet completed the work to uniquely identify each person described in our database. In many cases, this would not be possible as the available records do not give us all of the information (full names, dates of birth and death) that would enable us to make these connections. Future versions of this data will link records that we can be sure are describing a single individual.

Where entries are blank the data is information is unknown.


Key used in the data:

WB – Will Book
DB – Deed Book
AB – Account Book

For example:

WB 4, 138 = Will Book 4, page 138.

All records are from Arlington/Alexandria County unless Fairfax County or District of Columbia are specifically mentioned. Before becoming its own jurisdiction in 1920, Arlington County was at times part of Fairfax County (1742-1800), the District of Columbia (1801-1846), and Alexandria County (1847-1920).

Arlington County Records

Arlington County Land Records

Fairfax County Records

Deed Books (Fairfax County, Virginia), 1742-1866,

Beth Mitchell and Donald M. Sweig, An interpretive historical map of Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1760 : showing landowners, tenants, slave owners, churches, roads, ordinaries, ferries, mills, tobacco inspection warehouses and the towns of Alexander and Colchester, Office of Comprehensive Planning, Fairfax County, ca. 1987.

Personal Property Tax Lists of Fairfax County, 1782-1805,

Library of Congress

Diary of Bushrod Hunter, No. 13, 1861.


Alexandria Gazette

Daily National Intelligencer

Evening Star

National Intelligencer and Washington Advertiser

Secondary Sources

Allen C. Clark, “General John Peter Van Ness, A Mayor of the city of Washington, His Wife Marcia, and her father, David Burnes,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Vol. 22, 1918

George Dodge, “The Abingdon of Alexander Hunter, Et Al,” Arlington Historical Magazine, Vol. 11, No. 3, Oct. 1999.

Alexander Hunter, Huntsman in the South, 1908.

Mary Geraghty, “Domestic Management of Woodlawn Plantation: Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis and Her Slaves.” MA Thesis, College of William and Mary, 1993.

John Liebertz, A Guide to the African American Heritage of Arlington County, Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, Historic Preservation Program, 2016.

Dorothy S. Provine, Alexandria County, Virginia: Free Negro Registers, 1797-1861. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1990.

Dorothy S. Provine, District of Columbia Free Negro Registers, 1821-1861. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1996.

Helen Hoban Rogers, Freedom and Slavery Documents in the District of Columbia, Recorder of Deed Office, Vols 1-2, 1796-1816.

Eleanor Templeman, Vignettes of a Virginia County, 1959.

U.S. Records

D.C. Slave Emancipation Records, 1851-1863,

Freedman’s Bureau Records, 1865-1878,

US Federal Census Collection,

Southern Claims Commission Claims, 1871-1880.

Washington, D.C. US, Slave Owner Petitions, 1862-1863,

Washington, DC US, Wills and Probate Records, 1737-1952,

Union Provost Marshal’s Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866,

Virginia State Records

Virginia Chancery Records,, Library of Virginia.

Virginia Slave Birth Index, 1853-1899,

Virginia, US, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1990,


Slave Manumissions in Alexandria Land Records, 1790-1863,

National Park Service –

Legacy of Slavery in Maryland,

O Say Can You See: Early Washington DC Law & Family

Next steps

  • Moving the data into a searchable database
  • Annotating identified enslavement locations with coordinates
  • Creating story maps to enable browsing of the data on a map
  • Linking names to unique descriptions of enslaved individuals, so users can trace a single person through multiple events