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New Project Will Recover the Names of Up to 10 Million People Enslaved in America Before Emancipation and Locate Their Living Descendants

3 Aug 2023 9:32 PM | Anonymous

The following is a press release issued by American Ancestors:

American Ancestors® and Collaborators Announce the Launch of "10 Million Names," a Project to Honor the Family Histories of African Americans Whose Ancestors Lived Under Slavery, with a Permanent, Free, Publicly Accessible Database at

ABC News to Serve as Exclusive Media Partner of Historic 10 Million Names Project

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Aug. 3, 2023-- American Ancestors, a national center for family history, is partnering with family historians, leading African American scholars, and cultural institutions to recover the names of the 10 million people of African descent who were enslaved between the 1500s and 1865 in the territory that is now the United States of America. The project—10 Million Names—will centralize genealogical and historical information about enslaved people of African descent and their families on a free website.

ABC News will serve as the exclusive media partner of 10 Million Names. The year-long, network-wide initiative will feature the findings, research, and work of a collaborative network of genealogists, cultural organizations, and community-based family historians through impactful and informative storytelling and reporting across ABC News programs and platforms.

The project advisory board includes Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard scholar and host of the popular PBS Series Finding Your Roots, which often reveals surprising information to celebrity guests about their ancestors. Other members of the 10 Million Names Advisory Board are Richard Cellini, founder of the Georgetown Memory Project and a Research Fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Gwill York, Advisory Board chair, entrepreneur, prominent business leader, and civic volunteer for more than thirty years, and Paula Williams Madison, author of Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem, and Chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC and 88 Madison Media Works Inc

Dr. Gates and others associated with the project have described it as having the potential to connect millions of people with American history through genealogy in ways never possible before.

"For the first time ever, we have the means to accomplish a project of this importance and magnitude," said Cellini, the founding director of the 10 Million Names project. "The institutional will and the technology exist. We have a collective obligation as a nation to tell African American family stories."

Beginning in 2018, American Ancestors worked with Cellini to create a free, searchable public portal at that presented the family histories of more than 300 men, women, and children sold by the Jesuit priests of Georgetown University (then known as Georgetown College) in 1838 to Louisiana sugar plantations. When he first discovered the sale, Cellini, a Georgetown alumnus, created an independent non-profit dedicated to finding the people who were sold, and worked with American Ancestors to publish the results.

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