Follow Friday/A Friend of Friends Friday: The Dead Librarian

I normally do not mention genealogy-specific blogs in my “Follow Friday” posts. But when I have the opportunity to combine my two favorite Friday blogging memes–Follow Friday and A Friend of Friends Friday–I will make an exception.

This week I would like to highlight the blog of a librarian in South Carolina that I met at the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in 2010: Debbie Bloom’s Dead Librarian. She was able to attend the Institute that year as awardee of the

The specific reason that I want to bring attention to Debbie’s blog, however, is that she recently discovered how to create blog pages. You can read about this discovery, and the page she has now created, in the post “Dangerous Dead Librarian.”

Specifically, she has created a new page on her blog called, simply, “SC Slave Marriages.” She describes the birth of this page:

Brent Holcomb’s SC Marriages book includes slave and FPOC marriages but those names are not indexed.  A very skilled and devoted librarian (not me!) indexed all those missing names.  Brent Holcomb kindly told us about some other resources he published and the next thing I know is we have a nifty new index with almost 400 names for helping African American genealogists.[1]

What the librarian (not Debbie!) indexed appears as a link to a Google Docs spreadsheet from the “SC Slave Marriages” page. The spreadsheet is not as user-friendly as one might hope, unfortunately. The owner’s names are listed in a single column by first name, or more often by “Mr.,” and are not alphabetized. The spreadsheet is alphabetized by the first name of the groom. This is probably the least helpful way to organize the information. Any children born as a result of these marriages (and therefore probably the route through which one would encounter these ancestors) would have, by law, belonged to the owner of the mother. A spreadsheet alphabetized by the first name of the bride would be more helpful to researchers. It would also be far more helpful to remove the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” titles, and list the owners of both groom and bride surname-first. This would make it far more easy to scan the list for the name of a specific slave owner or slave-owning family. The spreadsheet is also locked, making it impossible for researchers to resort the data by the column of their choice.

Another weakness with both the blog page and the spreadsheet are the poor and incomplete source citations. The blog page cites the sources as follows:

1. SC Marriages by Brent Holcomb
2. Fairforest Presbyterian Church Records: SCMAR Vol. 13
3. First Presbyterian Church records: SCMAR Vol 35, 36

As readers of this blog (as well as my “National African American Genealogy” and “Baltimore Genealogy & History” columns on know–I am a stickler for full, accurate, and consistent source citations. Here are reconstructed citations, based on what little information I have to go on. Details for the “SC Marriages” book are from the catalog of the Library of Congress. What few details could be discerned for the journal articles were taken from Brent H. Holcomb’s webpage for the South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research. Of course the specific details, where unknown below, should be added.

  • Holcomb, Brent H., compiler. South Carolina Marriages, 2 vols. Baltimore : Genealogical Pub. Co., 1980-1981.
  • Holcomb, Brent H., compiler. [article title unknown, but possibly “Marriages Performed by the Rev. A. A. James, Union County (1851-)”]. South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 13 (1985): [pages unknown].
  • Holcomb, Brent H., compiler. “[article title unknown].” South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 35 (2007): [pages unknown].
  • Holcomb, Brent H., compiler. “[article title unknown].” South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 36 (2008): [pages unknown].

Despite these few weaknesses, however, we are still provided with free access to a much-needed resource for information on slave marriages!

Thanks Debbie and the librarian who compiled this index (not Deb), for making this information available! I certainly wish that others would do the same.


[1] Debbie Bloom, “Dangerous Dead Librarian,” The Dead Librarian blog, posted 18 October 2011 ( : accessed 22 Oct 2011).

One thought on “Follow Friday/A Friend of Friends Friday: The Dead Librarian

  1. Thanks Michael,

    This database started as an in-house experiment. We are discovering some interesting slave information in traditional SC genealogy resources that were never indexed. We promise to get better about our fields and organization but I was tired of seeing this on our staff computer without any public access. Expect to see more in a raw form just so we can get it out there. I’ll see if I can figure out how to unlock the spreadsheet!

    I would love to know your thoughts about putting the info on Ancestry.


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