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Volume 820
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Preface

Anne Arundel County, Certificates of Freedom, 1845-1864

The eight hundred and twentieth volume of the Archives of Maryland Online was originally created between 1845-1864. The Archives of Maryland edition was published in 2009 by the Maryland State Archives.

In 1805 the General Assembly passed a law to identify free African Americans and to control the availability of freedom papers. As the lawmakers explained: "great mischiefs have arisen from slaves coming into possession of certificates of free Negroes, by running away and passing as free under the faith of such certificates" (1805 Laws of Maryland Chapter 66). The law required African Americans who were born free to record proof of their freedom in the county court. The court would then issue them a certificate of freedom. If the black person had been manumitted, the court clerk or register of wills would look up the manumitting document before issuing a certificate of freedom.

A typical certificate not only indicates how the individual became free, but also lists physical characteristics that could be used to establish identity. These include height, eye color, complexion, and hair color and texture.

Volume 762
Source Document

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY COURT (Certificates of Freedom)
   MSA CM789-5
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Certificates of Freedom)
   MSA CM794-1
Preface


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