Census Occupations of Afro-American Families on Staten Island, 1840-1875

Census Occupations of Afro-American Families on Staten Island, 1840-1875

Census Occupations of Afro-American Families on Staten Island, 1840-1875 was compiled by the late Staten Island Brough Historian Richard B. Dickenson. Published by the Staten Island Museum in 1981, it was an offshoot of the “Black Man on Staten Island Collection” that was started by Clarence “Cleve” Overton, Gail Schneider and others. Development of the collection was continued by Evelyn Morris King and Dr. Minna Wilkins. Much of the community history documented came from the memories of older African-Americans. Several other publications also resulted from the efforts that were undertaken.

The late Borough Historian Richard Dickenson, circa 2002. Courtesy of the Staten Island Advance.

Census Occupations of Afro-American Families on Staten Island, 1840-1875 gives the names of individual African-Americans who worked on the island between 1855 and 1870. Birthplace, ages, town of residence, occupation, and the census years for the information is included. Occupations are listed for 1840 to 1875, since the occupations of African-Americans were not included until the 1840 census (Dickenson iii). An appendix listing African-American Staten Island households from the 1850 Federal Census is included.

The manuscript is filled with historic information including a discussion on census records. There is also a list of the enslaved individuals who lived during the 18th century. The enslavers names are also included. There is no doubt that it is not complete as undercounting is an historical problem. The article “Slavery on Staten Island” by Evelyn Morris King is also in the publication. Mr. Dickenson attached several appendices including the New York State Gradual Abolition Act.

Page 8 from Census Occupations of Afro-American Families on Staten Island, 1840-1875.

Census Occupations of Afro-American Families on Staten Island, 1840-1875 is a treasure trove of facts and information. I was unable to find an online copy for research, but WorldCat informs me that it is available for consultation at the New York Public Library, the New York Historical Society, and the New York State Library. If my memory serves me correctly there are also copies in the Archives of the Staten Island Museum.

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