RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Library of Virginia will display a selection of rare documents that highlight an important part of Black history for the Juneteenth holiday.
From June 13 through June 27, visitors will get a chance to view an exhibition of “Free Negro Registers” in the Library’s lobby. The records were used by the Commonwealth in efforts to regulate and control its growing free Black population from the late 1700s to the Civil War. Juneteenth celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States.
The records contain information about free Black and multiracial individuals who were required by Virginia to register their locality, according to a release from the Library. Names, ages, physical descriptions and emancipation details of individuals were listed in these registers. The documents, which are part of the Library’s Local Government Records Collection, holds 39 volumes of “Free Negro Registers” from 17 Virginia localities.
“The register books demonstrate the unending challenges to being a free person of color in antebellum Virginia,” said Lydia Neuroth, a project manager for the Library’s “Virginia Untold” digital collection, in the press release. “While declared ‘free’ on paper, their lives were closely surveilled by white officials restricting their mobility, autonomy, and humanity.”
The Library is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed from June 18 to June 20 in observance of Juneteenth. Additional information can be found on the Library’s website.