Guide to African American Resources in the State Library and Archives of Florida

Cover of Women's History Guide

Local Government Records

(RecordGroup 800000)

This record group consists of public records generated by local government agencies throughout Florida. While the State Archives of Florida does not actively collect local government records, it does accept historically significant local records that are in danger of destruction or that complement other items already in the Archives. The record group includes records such as probate, voting, tax, and commission records of different city, town and county agencies. A large collection of microfilmed county tax, deed, marriage, probate, and some birth and naturalization records is of particular value for genealogical research.

From 1973 through the 1990s, the Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) conducted an extensive microfilming project of selected county records in the state of Florida. Copies of the microfilmed deed, marriage, probate, and tax records were deposited into the State Archives of Florida and are available for research. Interspersed throughout the county record collection are African American marriage records, deeds documenting African American land ownership, and some bills of sale for slaves. The probate records containing wills or appraisement inventories listing slaves are also available.

Only four counties (Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, and Gulf) provide indexes specifically for "Negro" or "Colored" marriages. No indexes for Negro deed or probate records exist.

Other county records that may be useful for research in black history are chancery case files, marks and brands, mortgages, guardianships, and court order books.

The researcher must know the name of the person and the county in order to efficiently access the records. This is of particular importance with the deed and probate records.

The following are examples of the types of information found in the county microfilm records that relate to African Americans in Florida. Below that are listed additional series of local government records that can be useful for black history research.

Marriage Records

Gadsden County Marriage Record (colored) Book 1, 1899-1906; Book 2, 1906-1913; Book 3, 1913-1919; Book 4, 1919-1925; Book 5, 1925-1935

Gulf County Marriages, Book 2 (colored), 1925-1932.

Jefferson County, Index to Marriage Record, Book E (freedman), December 1865 to September 1872.

Leon County, Register of Marriages (colored), Book 4, 1868-1887; Index to Marriage Licenses (colored), No. 1 & 2, 1865-1915, A-Z (males only); General Index to Marriage Records (colored), Book A & B, 1865-1925, A-Z (males and females); Colored Marriage Licenses, 1865-1932.

Deeds and Other Land Records

The index for deeds does not include the designations "colored," "Negro," or "Black." For this reason the researcher must know the county and name of the person being researched.

Probate Records

The probate records include wills, letters testamentary, letters of administration, and guardianship records. Many of the wills include bequests of slaves to relatives. Probate records also include inventories, appraisements and accounts of sales. See Leon County series listed below.

Seabreeze (Fla.). Town Clerk's Office.
Voter Registration Book, 1912-1925, 1 volume
L 40

This volume includes each registrant's name, age, color, occupation, and the date of registration. The oath taken before registration is also listed.

Jefferson County School Board ( Fla.)
Records, 1914-1964, 24 cubic feet, 3 volumes
L 46

Administrative files of the school superintendents of Jefferson County include correspondence (which dates from 1917); monthly reports from the public health nurse to the State Board of Health; files regarding black schools including teachers' salaries and facilities construction; teacher contracts, salaries, resignations, certifications; information on the Florida Education Association, Minimum Foundation Program, and the State Improvement Commission; and special school programs including agricultural and home economics, and the Florida Institute, a post-World War II program for veterans.

Florida. Circuit Court (2nd Circuit: Leon County)
Estate Inventories and Appraisements, 1853-1879, 1883-1889, 1893-1894,
1 volume, 1 microfilm reel ( 35 mm.)
L 72

This series contains one original record book (1853-1872) and a microfilm copy of this volume and another (1872-1894) including inventories and appraisements of personal property belonging to the estate of individuals at the time of their deaths. The personal property listed includes household goods, notes, livestock, and slaves. The lists of slaves include name, appraisement of worth, and sometimes age of the individual. The books are indexed.

Florida. Circuit Court (2nd Circuit: Leon County)
Sales of Personal Estates, 1860-1889, 1 volume
L 73

This volume contains information regarding the sale or auction of personal property belonging to the estate of individuals. Most entries list the type of personal property sold, the purchasing price, and the name of the purchaser. Among the personal property sold at auction were slaves. In most instances, slaves were listed by name, age, purchase price, and name of purchaser. A name index is included in the volume.

Florida. Circuit Court (2nd Circuit: Jefferson County)
Miscellaneous Court Records, ca. 1828-1955, 11.75 cubic feet
L 346

This series consists of a variety of court records maintained by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. Some of the records originated in the Circuit Court; for others the court of origin is unclear.

The majority of the records in the series fall into one of the following categories:

account records, bills, and promissory notes; affidavits; bonds; court case files; commitment records; coroner's inquests; deeds and mortgages; dockets; election records; freedmen's contracts; juror and witness records; naturalization records; oaths; petitions; probate records; property records; subpoenas; tax records; warrants; or writs. A few other miscellaneous records are also included in the series, such as appointments, Board of County Commissioner's records, bridge and road construction records, correspondence, decrees, records of estrays, licenses, records of marks and brands, orders, plats, slave sale records, and summons.

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