Motion to modify the title of this group, and the standard terminology for names

Начала Private User сегодня
Возникла проблема на этой странице?


  • Private User
    Geni Pro
  • Geni Pro
  • Private User
    Geni member
  • Private User
    Geni Pro
  • Private User
    Geni member

Упомянутые профили:


Показаны сообщения 1–30 из 31
Private User
Сегодня в 11:17 до полудня

Hello all,

I would like for us to modify the standard terminology, from, for example, "Peter, slave of James Green," to "Peter, enslaved by James Green." This is now the standard in academia, as it returns the personhood to a human who was enslaved, focusing on slavery as their CONDITION, instead of being given the IDENTITY as a "slave."

Likewise, I would move to change the name of this group to "American Slaveholders" or "American Enslavers," to emphasize the act of enslavement, instead of the "identity" of "owning" another human being.



cc: Erica Howton Suzan Martin Private User Ursula Lenori GedMatch Kit EK2533464

Private User
Сегодня в 11:43 до полудня

And yes, I understand that this discussion was had 8 years ago, but I believe it's time to reconsider, given the widespread acceptance and understanding of the terms now. It is a small change, but given the fact that we are seeking to help restore these ancestors to their kin, it would be, I believe, the responsible thing to do.

Сегодня в 12:25 после полудня

Works for me. I think “slave holder” might be more accurate, as “enslaver” makes me think of the original capturer, back in Africa; or the first to own, in America ….and now I’m thinking too much. “Slaveholder” avoids all of that.

Сегодня в 12:44 после полудня

Against my own argument:

(One thing the slave and enslaved person camps can agree on? The term slaveholder is far too kind. “That terminology is a gift,” historian Joshua Rothman told me. “They are thieves of others’ humanity. Man stealers. Vampires.”)
Historian Eric Foner thinks substituting two words where one will do is needlessly obfuscating. “I was taught long ago by my mentor Richard Hofstadter that it is always better to use as few words as possible in conveying an idea,” he emailed. “Slave is a familiar word and if it was good enough for Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists who fought to end the system, it is good enough for me.”

I don’t want to be anachronistic, and imposed 21st century ideals on 17th century documents. But for a project title we can be as politically correct as we like.

Private User
Сегодня в 12:55 после полудня

Because of all the good reasons BLACK people gave in the old threads.
Let's not pretend those reasons are not still the same.
The old thread:

Сегодня в 12:59 после полудня

Tagging Private User for opinions. I notice she used “enslavers” for the US Congress sub project.

I’m struggling with the idea of how / if to rename “American slaves.” American enslaved persons reads a little mealy mouthed. It feels more in-my-face the way it is now? Dan Cornett

Private User
Сегодня в 1:00 после полудня

Did you know that the etymology of the word "slave" is related to "Slav"? There was a time, I think during the heyday of the Byzantine Empire, or it may be the early German Roman Empire, when so many persons of Eastern European origin were captured and sold as servants that their term for themselves became synonymous with their unfree condition.

American Heritage Dictionary:

Private User
Сегодня в 1:14 после полудня

I understand the rationale, but it gets tricky in other contexts though like the project "Slave Uprisings in Black History (US)". Does "slave uprising" now become "enslaved people uprisings"? As for another suggestion here, slaveholder doesn't do much for me; it seems synonymous with slave owner.

Private User
Сегодня в 1:15 после полудня

Yes Erica.
That was exactly the point in the other discussions.
All these project names must remain exactly as in-your-face as the subjects they are about.
Erica you voted NO on this in the past.

Any suggestion to make these project names sound less in-your-face, sound less clear and concise, and harder to find, is highly suspicious.
What are your motives really?
Find some black members who want this change first.

Private User
Сегодня в 1:32 после полудня

These curators/members voted no on this in the past and will hopefully come back in here and do the same again for the same reasons:

Ailene Nechelle House
Private User
Justin Durand
Private User
Dan Cornett
Faustine Darsey on partial hiatus
Joel Scott Cognevich
Private User
Erica Howton
Private User
Eldon Lester Clark
Linda Kathleen Thompson, (c) taking a knitting hiatus
Martin RhNegativ
Private User
Geoffrey Brown

The old discussion:

Сегодня в 1:46 после полудня

(I’ve since Re read the original discussion, thank you for the link.)

Oh, I think some of this is about the language used in current academia. But genealogy is different, it’s artifact based.

I’ll repeat my original test: on the three names - American Enslavers, American Slaveholders, American slave owners - what does google show?

American Enslavers

Is enslaver a word?
To make into or as if into a slave. en·slave′ment n. en·slav′er n

Enslaver versus Master, Owner, or Slaveholder

An enslaver exerted power over those they kept in bondage. They referred to themself as a master or owner - hierarchical language which reinforced a sense of natural authority. Today, the terms “master” or “owner” can continue to suggest a naturalness to the system while also distancing us from the fact that enslavers actively enslaved other human beings who were entitled to the same natural rights as themselves.

The terms slave master and slave owner refer to those individuals who enslaved others when slavery was part of American culture. These terms can imply that enslaved people were less capable or worthy than those who enslaved them. Using the word master or owner can limit understanding of enslaved people to property. These terms also support a social construct that there are people who should naturally hold power (i.e. slave owners, slave masters) and those who should naturally not (enslaved individuals).

american slave owners

(I get a lot more directly relevant & useful hits, starting with

American slave holders

(More or less the same as American slave owner, but picking it up from narrative terms, not document terms)

From the National Archives

American Slavery, Civil Records

Example title of document:

List of Slave Owners and Former Slaves, 1853-54. Box 1904, 1 vol., ½ inch, entry 723.

Private User
Сегодня в 2:33 после полудня

Private User “Slave holder” denotes action and a choice made by that person, which is more accurate than suggesting that they merely fell into a “status” of owning another human being. As to suggestions for slave uprisings, I am not making suggestions here, although the resources I provided above have some guidance.

My background is in academia, where it is understood that the very least we can do now is restore some of the humanity that was historically denied enslaved persons. We can make the choice to do so here, as well, and I believe it’s the ethical thing to do.

Regarding whether the source of this is American descendants of enslaved persons, the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” My sources below are from some of the foremost Black thinkers in America today. And they are all agreed on this subject.

I studied law at OSU Moritz, where our scholar in residence is Michelle Alexander, Black woman and author of “The New Jim Crow.” She, too, is careful to humanize enslaved persons in her writing.

Another foremost black thinker in this regard is Ta-Nehisi Coates. You can view a very short clip on the subject here:

Yet another foremost black scholar who is scrupulously careful with this language is Nikole Hannah-Jones. A clip of her discussing this is here:

You can read more about it in the context of her work, along with the shift in the New York Times’ own style manual as a result:

Ibram X. Kendi Q&A – note that he carefully uses the word “slave” for things like “slave trade,” not to describe people:

This style guide from the NAACP of Culpeper, Madison, and Rappahannock Counties, VA:

In addition to the above, there are these:

The American Psychological style guidelines now recommend “enslaved person” instead of “slave,” as well:

The American Heart Association style guide also agrees:

Private User
Сегодня в 2:50 после полудня

Jenn, black scholars writing papers, artcles, books, discussing and problematizing the word slave is very different from white people on geni trying to erase the words "slave" and "slave owner" from geni.

I still want you to find black geni members who support this nonsense.

Сегодня в 3:01 после полудня

I am wholly on the side of Jenn.

I'm also a big fan of Ibram X. Kendi careful use of words in his book "How to be an Anti-Racist", where he seeks to define terminology and carefully separate racist ideas and racist policies from the identity of a person. (e.g.: just because at times I may have held a racist idea or been a part of an organization which had implemented racist policies does not make me a racist person. However, if I don't actively seek to replace those racist ideas & language, nor work to change racists policies, then I cannot claim to be becoming an anti-racist person.)

So, back to being more on point:

Whenever referring to policies and concepts and ideas, it may okay (in some cases) to use the descriptive term slave (e.g.: "slave trade" ... even if a more accurate term may be "trade in enslaved persons").

However, when referring to people, whether an individual or as a group, help to change patterns of thinking by using the descriptive term "enslaved xxx".

Private User
Сегодня в 3:15 после полудня

Dan, did you have a look at what you wrote in the old discussion?

What has changed for you since then?

Private User
Сегодня в 3:41 после полудня

Private User there is no intention to “erase” words. There is, however, an intention to be careful with the words we ourselves are choosing to use. We don’t use the “n” word here, no matter how much it may appear in the writings we come across. My focus is on the ethical linguistic treatment WE choose to give these ancestors.
Scholars who are descendants of enslaved persons are absolutely central to this process. The choice to improve our language does not require that we tokenize or target any specific descendant of enslaved persons here on Geni.

Erica Howton I believe that we can use and describe artifacts for what they are, and even quoting the language of these documents is valid in scholarly genealogical argument. However, it is the language that we are using today, right now, in our description of persons that I am questioning.

For a genealogical discussion, here is Familysearch dot org, describing research of enslaved ancestors using intentional descriptive language and terms:

Genealogical guide from Bryn Mawr:
A discussion sponsored by Ancestry dot com:

Here’s a scholarly article detailing a genetic genealogy study:
Here is Fairfax County’s exhaustive detailing of African-American genealogical resources, also using this intentional language:

Here is an excellent genealogical article from the International African American Museum Center for Family History that uses historical language description vs ethical use of our own descriptors incredibly well:

I can undoubtedly find a hundred examples, but I am not going to do that here.

Сегодня в 3:49 после полудня

In genealogy, we try to use contemporaneous records for what people were called and what they called themselves.

I just glanced at Federal Writers' Project: Slave Narrative Project, Vol. 1, Alabama, Aarons-Young. to 1937, 1936. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>

They’re not calling themselves “formerly enslaved persons.”

Curtis Howton Is called a “slave owner,” (1860) who freed “slaves” (1940).

Interestingly, Ancestry’s current transcription of the 1860 slave schedule labels as “number of enslaved people.”

But that’s not on the original document.

Сегодня в 3:51 после полудня
Private User
Сегодня в 4:07 после полудня

Jenn, comparing the word "slave owner" to the n word is ridiculous.

All your references are of two types:

1. Black scholars discussing the word slave at depth.
Very important, very interesting.

2. White genealogists getting excited they can now "soften up" the word "slave owner" they find too in-your-face.
Very problematic.

Me stating the obvious, that the opinions of black geni members matter more here than the opinion of white members is not tokenizing. That is ridiculous.

Private User
Сегодня в 4:16 после полудня

Jenn, in your original post you suggest to change the project name
"American slave owners"
to the much softer, and much harder to find:
"American Slaveholders" or "American Enslavers,"
It is problematic.

There will be no academic paper discussing and explaining why, like in your academia references.
The only result will be the word "slave owner" erased.

Private User
Сегодня в 4:38 после полудня

Jenn, I am convinced most or all of your black scholars and black geni members would be against white geni members changing the project name
"American slave owners"
to "American Slaveholders" or "American Enslavers,"

Private User
Сегодня в 4:56 после полудня

Private User My background is in academia, education, and civil rights. This is not a flip suggestion, nor one that is going to erase anyone's language. Anyone is free to use it in their own lives and research as they wish.

If you want the group to be easy to find, then the name "American Slave Holders," with a space, should serve your purposes, yes?

If your standard is legitimately that Black people should be in agreement here, how many Black users of Geni, backing up this ethical use of language, would you require in order to agree to this change? I am not being sarcastic at all. Please let me know.

Private User
Сегодня в 5:28 после полудня


1. I pointed out you want to erase the word slave owner from this specific project name and probably other geni project names. Not from anyones language. Context. Strawman.

2. No, "Slave Holders" wont be as easy to find. The current name "slave owners" is better. I fail to see how holder would be more ethical language than owner. Please explain. Holder is problematic. Holder is obfuscating history.

3. I have pointed out black geni members did not agree with you in previous discussions on the same subject. It is relevant. If you could find some supporting your suggestion it would also be very relevant.

Сегодня в 5:31 после полудня

We tried to set up “naming conventions for American slaves” to make it easy & possible to create trees for enslaved people, as we find them in our own trees, based on the records we find that are substantive enough for a profile. Because of this discussion I just found one, finally! Maybe more.

This is the record:
“Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church A Short History”. Compiled by W. F. Kitchens (1911-1996) (date written unknown; abt 1982)<PDF> page 6

Sarah Cowen (col.), received by experience May, 1860, dismissed by letter 1869. She was known as Tito’s Sarah because she was married to Titus, a slave of Jonathan Howton

I am uncomfortable naming Titus “enslaved by Jonathan Howton”.

1. It’s a fact not in evidence. I don’t know who enslaved Titus. I don’t know how he came to be held by Jonathan.

2. The source calls him “slave of Jonathan Howton.” So that’s the information I have.

There’s a difference between a genealogical name (work around) and narrative. The scholarship quoted is narrative points, and of course I agree. But we are looking at profile names, and for that - the contemporary record.

Curtis & his son Jonathan are not referred to a “enslavers” in any record I’ve seen - or as slave holders, for that matter. So how could I drop them in a project when they are not sourced that way?

Private User
Сегодня в 6:06 после полудня

Erica, I agree with all your posts in this discussion.

I think the formerly in "formerly enslaved" is extra problematic.

Private User
Сегодня в 6:17 после полудня

Jenn, you wrote:
“Slave holder” denotes action and a choice made by that person, which is more accurate than suggesting that they merely fell into a “status” of owning another human being.


1. Holder does not denote action more than owner.

2. Many slave owners inherited their slaves. In many cases they fell into the status.

Сегодня в 6:30 после полудня

And, depending on the state and the estate, it wasn’t always so easy to manumit one’s inherited holdings, even when that’s an explicit and expressed desire. So there are all kinds of legal maneuverings to seen in records; as well as the opposite, because people.

So in addition to the chronology issue about the word “Enslaver,” (who first did it?), it’s also a moral term, designed to evoke disgust. Maybe rightly so, but “slave owner” is not a euphemism, it is the recorded term.

I’ve been able to fill in more on the family of formerly-enslaved Titus Howton He lived close by his former owner, and voted with him and old Curtis in 1867. And, glad to have found the name he used.

Сегодня в 7:14 после полудня

No longer a curator, so I don't have a vote of any kind. However, I will say I agree with Jenn. Genealogy is NOT different from academia, and must inevitably follow along, albeit with some caution where a shift too soon would create confusion. I don't see any potential confusion here. The proposed language is clear.

Private User
Сегодня в 8:27 после полудня

Justin, you also just did a 180 turn here since the old discussion.

What changed and when exactly for you?

Показаны сообщения 1–30 из 31

Зарегистрируйтесь или войдите в систему чтобы участвовать в этом обсуждении