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Valuable Information

How to Search

How to Build your Search

Understanding the Results

Improving the Results

How to Search

Find Valuable Ancestral Information
An online search engine for the public
The Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy online search engine was designed to provide the general public free access to valuable historic records. Users can locate individual slaves who lived in Louisiana between the years of 1718 and 1820 through this easy-to-use, free, public database. Find valuable historical data from over 100,000 descriptions of slaves found in documents in Louisiana between 1718 and 1821 by searching identifiers such as gender, racial designation, or plantation location. Users can even search the origin of the slaves brought to Louisiana in the 18th and 19th centuries to work the New World.

How to Search
To search the online database, click the appropriate box or boxes for name, gender, racial designation, plantation or origin in the tables of options provided.

To search by Name, type a full name or any part of a name. For example, a search for 'mary' will return only persons with the exact name of "Mary." An asterisk (*) will allow you to search for any part of a name. In figure 1.1, searching for 'mary*' will find not only persons named "Mary" but also persons named "Maryanne" and "Mary Beth." (Capitalization is ignored by the search.)

When searching on "Master's Name," the search engine looks at three fields: Estate (in the case of an estate sale), Buyer and Seller. If the name entered matches the contents of any of those three fields, you will see the records for the enslaved person concerned. For example, searching on a Master's Name of "Smith" will give you the records of all persons enslaved by anyone named Smith who is listed at the Owner of the Estate, who is the Buyer or who is the Seller. Just as in the search on the Slave Name, and asterick will be treated as a wildcard character in this search.

figure 1.1

To select criteria from other categories simply click on the box or boxes in the tables of options provided.(figure 1.2). Once a criteria has been selected, the user can select more items from the same category, move to the next category, or click on the search button on the bottom of the page to execute the search (figure 1.3).

figure 1.2

figure 1.3

How To Build Your Search
Users may search by categories (Race, Gender, Origin) or within a category (female or male; black or indian or mulatto).

  1. To Search Within a Category
    When a search is conducted within a category, it is using the OR operator which expands the possibilities of data returned. In figure 1.4, criteria for the search are set within the "Race" category. A user is looking for a slave who is either black, Indian, OR mulatto. Results will show any slave described as black, Indian, OR mulatto.
  2. To Search By Category
    When a search is conducted by categories, it is using the AND operator which places a restriction on the results. In figure 1.5, a user is looking for a slave described as either black, Indian, OR mulatto AND female. The result set will include any slave who is a female AND is either black, Indian, OR mulatto.

figure 1.4

figure 1.5

Understanding the Results
After you press the SUBMIT button, you will receive a brief set of records that meet your search requirements. You may view the entire record for any person in your result list by clicking on an individual's name.

The result page (figure 1.6) returns the criteria of the search, the number of results, the result set shown, and the names of slaves with information about each slave. Click on the individual slave's name to view the entire record for that individual slave. Only forty of the records are shown at a time. If there are more than forty records in the result set, then page numbers will apear at the bottom of the page and allow users to view additional pages of records.

Occasionally, the search engine will refresh itself and get rid of searches that have been executed after a lengthy amount of time (Approximately 2 hours). In this case, the message "Warning: page expired" will be displayed if you attempt to access results from an expired search.

figure 1.6

How to Improve Your Search Results
It is helpful to have in mind what results you want. The more specific you make your search, the more defined the result set will be. The database contains 100,000 records. If your search results are extremely large, you may encounter this error message: "Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in /public/html/burta/php/slave/includephp on line n" (where n is some number).