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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review:  White Slave Children Trilogy by Richard Hayes Phillips, PhD

This year two more volumes in the Without Indentures series by Richard Hayes Phillips, PhD, published by the Genealogical Publishing Company, were released.  This little know index traces children who were transported to Colonial Maryland and Virginia from Europe and other colonies. Phillips new books add to his first book, Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records (Maryland and Virginia), which was published in 2013.  These new volumes concentrate on different records and specific county research.

I have to admit that while I knew there were indentured children, I was unaware of the amount of underhanded deals which made hundreds of children essentially slaves.  Children who were taken from their homes in Colonial Massachusetts as well as in England who were lost in the records while they were sent to Maryland, Virginia, or the Caribbean.  Through extensive searching of extant documents Phillips has begun the process of finding these children who had, in many cases, simply disappeared from the family unit according to other records.

Each book gives you historical background for the various laws enacted as well as a guide to using the books.  Both of which are essential to read so you can understand the records which are discussed better.  I was fascinated by the historical background information contained in the text.  Through it I was able to I read about the laws which were enacted that lead to the trafficking of white children and then those that were later enacted to stop it. 

In White Slave Children of Charles County, Maryland: The Search for Survivors concentrates on records held  within this specific county. The small biographies in the beginning of the book were particularly informative.  Compiled from court records and other documents that have survived, these biographies covered not only some of the children but those who purchased them as well.  There is also a listing of “Dishonorable Mentions.” These were people who had a record of abusing their servants.  More than three quarters of the book however concerns the children slaves, or servants, who were found in records like orphan’s lists, deeds, estates, petitions for freedom, and runaways who were found.

The second volume White Slave Children of Colonial Maryland and Virginia: Birth and Shipping Records concentrates on records from specific geographical areas.  Each chapter catalogs the birth and shipping records for those from an English County (such as Kent, Devon, or Essex), Country (like Ireland or Scotland), or another colony (Massachusetts).  Each entry lists all of the information uncovered for that person as well as where the information was found. 

Phillips admits that this is a subject in which more work still needs to be done.  This series of books could easily this could turn into a person’s life work as more records are discovered on this subject.  In fact, each county in Maryland and Virginia could be easily be covered through this research resulting in dozens of more books.
Truly a scholarly work, these books are essential for any library on colonial Maryland or Virginia research.  An excellent compendium of information to help discover those who are easily overlooked in typical research methodology.  I hope that you check them out if you do any research these areas.  Not only will you find excellent explanations on historical matters, but you may find a few surprise in the pages.

You can purchase these books though or

1 comment:

  1. Shannon, I wasn't aware of the extent of this practice and I appreciate your calling these books to my attention.