HomeI. Historic Records Center (Fairfax County)

I. Historic Records Center (Fairfax County)

Historic Records Center research is done in person. More information is available on their website.

Fairfax County Historic Records Center is located at the Historic Fairfax Courthouse, 4000 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 1600, Fairfax, Virginia 22030.

Historic Records Center Black History Introductory Website

Historic Records Center American Revolution Records. The Historic Records Center has compiled records of Fairfax County Revolutionary War veterans from outside repositories such as the National Archives, the Smithsonian, and the Library of Virginia. Repository: Fairfax County Historic Records Center

Court Records

Fairfax County Court Order (Minute) Books, 1749-early 1990s. These books contain general court business, petitions, appointments, and the administration of estates. Minute books may contain slave ages recorded for tax purposes, freedom court cases involving slaves, and criminal cases involving slaves or African Americans. Repository: Fairfax County Historic Records Center

Fairfax County Probate Records, 1742-1935. Probate records, found in Will Books, occasionally contain slaves listed as inherited property. Slave inventories may also be found in these records. Repository: Fairfax County Historic Records Center

Fairfax Court Slave Index is a master index of slaves who appear in records between the years of 1742 and 1840. The card catalog contains the enslaved, free Blacks, Emancipation/Manumissions, and servants.

Fairfax County Courthouse Records of the Enslaved

The court records relating to the enslaved and free African Americans have been collected and preserved through the year at the county courthouse. The variety of records include:

1. COURT ORDER BOOKS

The court order books recorded the daily hearings of the court. Court actions involving African Americans may include but are not limited to: recording slave ages for taxation purposes, freedom suits, and criminal cases where slaves or free African Americans are either the victim or the perpetrator. Court order books also contain records related to runaway slaves held at the jail and individuals reimbursed for serving on slave patrols.

2. “FREE BLACKS” RECORDS

The Historic Records Center holds records of free African Americans living in Fairfax County. Deed books contain deeds of manumission and deeds in which freedmen bought property. The probate records contain wills and inventories of freed African Americans, and some estate and sale accounts show free African Americans participating in business transactions.

The Registration of Free Negroes, dating from 1822 - 1865, records those African Americans who were free and permitted to live in Fairfax County. The registrations provide information such as physical description, age, and the method by which the individual obtained his or her freedom. Family members, date of emancipation, and/or aliases might also be recorded as proof of freedom.

3. VITAL RECORDS

Vital records – such as birth, marriage, and death – were not recorded by the county courts until 1853. Slave births and deaths were recorded with the child and mother’s names only; in the place of the father, the owner’s name was listed.

While free blacks could marry, the Commonwealth of Virginia never recognized slave marriage as legal.

Examples of records:

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Registrations of Free Negroes

REGISTER OF FREE BLACKS 1822 - 1861

1835 BOOK 3 Register No. 449

I, Alfred Moss, Clerk of the County Court of Fairfax County, in the state aforesaid, do hereby certify that the bearer hereof George Lamb, a bright mulatto, about twenty one years of age, five feet eight inches high, bushy hair, black eyes, full face, no perceivable marks or scars, is the son of Harriet Lamb, a free negro and born free in Fairfax County Virginia as appears to the Court by satisfactory evidence.

Whereupon at the request of said George Lamb and by order of the said Court, I have registered him in my office as a free negro according to law.

Given under my hand this 15th day of January 1855.