"From the Family Bible of William White Griffin"

This text is a list of enslaved children and minor details of their births as recorded in the family Bible of William White Griffin, 1840-1861.
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concept 7.

slave births

Birth of Slaves

From the Family Bible of William White Griffin

Pasquotauk Country, North Carolina

Elisabeth City


Louisa daughter of Abbe, born March 15 1840

Sammuel son of Abbe, born Dec. 1843

Charles son of Abbe, born July 1847

Jordan son of Maria, born Nov. 1846

Jerry son of Maria, born Sept. 1860

Deliah daughter of Maria, born Dec. 17, 1853

John son of Maria, born Dec, 1856

Filmore son of Maria, born June 3, 1859

Daughter of Aggy, born Dec. 1849

Sarah daughter of Aggy, born Feb, 1855

Octarious son of Aggy, born Aug. 1857

Constant son of Aggy, born March 14, 1861

Violet daughter of Caroline, born July 1853

Miles son of Caroline, born March 1859

Mary Virignia daughter of Caroline, born Dec. 18, 1861 baptised July 19, 1861

George Washington son od Esther, born 1848

William son of India, born 1847

This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll1/id/10367
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    For what reasons might these births have been recorded?
    Answers will vary. The births of these children may have been recorded to gauge the fertility of their enslaved mothers or simply to keep track of the growing number of enslaved people.
  2. Question
    What types of names are listed here?
    Generally European names, biblical names and names of respected American figures, such as George Washington or Mary Virginia are used.
  3. Question
    Are full names listed here? Why or why not?
    No. Answers will vary. Leaving out the surnames of the children makes their parentage questionable; the mothers are lacking surnames as well. This absence of a family name weakened the formation of a family unit.
  4. Question
    Look at the number of mothers compared to the number of children. Assuming all repeating names refer to the same individual mother, what does this say about enslaved women and the number of children they may have been expected to birth?
    Answers will vary. Enslaved mothers on the plantation from whence this family bible originated were expected to have many children with brief pauses in between.
  5. Question
    Two children on this list were baptized. What might the dates of their baptism have to do with this? What may this reveal about the heritage of these two enslaved children?
    Answers will vary. The Civil War and its threats towards the sustainment of slavery may have convinced enslavers to find alternative ways to hold on to enslaved people; baptizing enslaved people may have bound them to their religious “families.” These baptized children may have been fathered or mothered by enslavers who wished to keep them in their families.
  6. Question
    Assuming no two mothers share the same name on this list, generally how much time were the mothers allowed before having another child?
    Each mother was allowed about three and a half years.
Reveal Answers
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