Beginning in 2011, Oak Alley Foundation began a concentrated effort to better understand the lives of those who lived here in bondage. Unlike the owners of this sugar plantation, their human property did not leave elegant manuscripts or lengthy letters detailing their experience. Rather, in only what can be described as bitter irony, the same documents that legitimized their dehumanization are now all that remain to give us hints of their identity as people. These documents are inventories, sales records, deeds and successions, as well as religious documents such as sacramental records.
While material is sparse, and certainly not as rich as a personal perspective, enormous insights can be made by examining these records. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that Oak Alley Foundation has created an internet-accessible digital archive of the information we have gleaned from these documents, and details the lives of all enslaved individuals kept at this plantation.
Assembled by our Education and Curatorial staff, the Oak Alley Slave Database brings together information from a wide variety of sources, the majority of them public repositories. It allows both browsing and advanced searching, enabling users to do comparative analysis, distinguish meaningful patterns, or simply better understand the lives of those enslaved at Oak Alley plantation. Lastly, this is a living document. As new material and discoveries are made, entries will be modified accordingly.