The Northeast Slavery Records Collaborative (NSRC) develops and maintains an online searchable compilation of records, called the Northeast Slavery Records Index (NESRI). The NESRI identifies records of enslavement, including records that identify individual enslaved persons and enslavers, for the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.
NESRI will index census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth certifications, manumissions, ship inventories, newspaper accounts, private narratives, legal documents and many other sources. The goal is to deepen the understanding of slavery in the participating states by bringing together information that until now has been largely disconnected and difficult to access. This 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 rationale for a project that encompasses the six states of New England along with New Jersey is primarily historical, based on the shifting jurisdictional boundaries of the states involved. For example, a Massachusetts index, for certain times when slavery existed, would include parts of what is now Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The Dominion of New England included Massachusetts and extended into Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. A single NESRI database would enable a locality to access enslavement records from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries for that location regardless of boundary and jurisdiction changes.
There are founding organizations and member organizations. Founding organizations are identified in the Charter at the time of initial approval, are may be added by amendment of the charter. Founding organizations may have ongoing responsibilities that are identified in the charter. These responsibilities may be amended or transferred by amendment of the charter. The following are founding organizations:
- John Jay College of Criminal Justice, of the City University of New York, which is responsible for the hosting and operation of the shared website and database, and which is the lead organization for NY State.
- Atlantic Black Box, which is the lead organization for the State of Maine and which is responsible for shipping records of enslavement for all participating states.
- Monmouth University is the lead organization for the State of New Jersey.
Organization members may include academic institutions or projects in academic institutions, as well as other partners like historical societies, commemorative projects and foundations. Organizational membership requires at least one representative of the organization to serve as the organization’s liaison or representative, and organization memberships do not expire unless there is no member serving as representative and no ongoing efforts to designate one.
NSRC is governed by its members, who meet online or in person at least once per year. There is an executive committee of the membership, which consists of one member per state and two members for any state with more than 500 records in the shared database. The following is a current membership roster. Lead members for states are identified in bold.
- New York
- Ned Benton, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
- Judy-Lynne Peters, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
- Nyeisha Dortch, Faculty Senate Administrator, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
- New Jersey
- Rick Geffken, independent historian
- Walter Greason, Professor, Monmouth University
- Joe Zemla, Monmouth County Historical Association
- Vana Carmona, Independent Historian
- Meadow Dibble, The Atlantic Black Box Project
- Dennis Culliton, Founder and Executive Director, Witness Stones Project
The charter for the Northeast Slavery Records Index is here: Charter.