How do you record slaves?

I have found some records of birth, marriage and death of slaves of my ancestors.
I have been wondering how to record it in Gramps. Should I add them as children of their master? As a Property event?

Any help is appreciated.

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How about record them as people and families and create roles and relations to their “Masters”

or create an Event for where you found the information, and link the different people with their roles by just create some custom roles?

so if you found it in a census, create a Census Event, then add all the people, and link them to the Event with the Role you created …
i.e. Master, Family of Master, Slave, Family of Slave …

Record history as history was …

Edit: corrected some spelling errors …

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Why do you want to document them at all? Slaves never had a family relationship with their owners. By today’s standards, that would be employees. Nobody would mention employees in a family tree, would they?

My relatives did not (mostly) live in the slave states.

That being said, I list the number of slaves as an event attribute and attach the census slave schedule as an additional source/citation to the head of family, their “master and owner”.

On a side note, I do not use the Form gramplet and do not add non-family members found in census records.

Its a lot of people that research more than only lineage-linked information …

Very many serious researchers also research the history for any and all people and their families in their tree, and history for the farms, places, ships and companies their ancestors owned or worked at …

I know of a few that have used 10-15 years with research in tracking slaves and their families …

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Semperor, many slaves were treated like family and sometimes were family. One I discovered was the son of Henry Champion, first recorded at his baptism as Champion, Joel, son of Capt. Champion but later found using the name Joel Jackson. Mother is unknown but he needs to be listed both as slave and son. So far I’ve been using a tag I created to mark him as a slave. As a side note, he was a free man for the last 14 years of his 40 year life but I haven’t found out how he obtained his freedom yet.


The Association tag has been a standard option in the GEDCOM standards for decades. Many programs allow non-genetic relationships to be logged and even customized.

Gramps has long supported customized Association types. And you can modify the Sync Associations add-on to add other types of Associations to synchronize. (the Sync make certain matching Associations exist where appropriate. You may have entered all the Godparents matching your collection of Baptismal events in the baptized … but did you add godchild Associations to each godparent?)

However, people are uncomfortable publicizing the ability to analyze destructive relationships. They only write up the positive ones.

To discover if the Gramps ability to customize an Association is compatible with other software, look for the ability to log a non-controversial but asymmetric & non-genetic relationship (like godparent/godchild or minister/parishioner) and see if it allows customization as to the type of Association.

Some people do similar tracking for associations created in the commission of other violent crimes.

I expect that some sort of analysis & reports would be of value to people with these kinds of tree shattering Associations.

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