It is time to show the fields we are using in our database on Baptismal Records for Slave Societies (BARDSS). In previous posts, we pointed out that this database was possible thanks to a project hosted at Vanderbilt University and led by professor Jane Landers. Landers and her team have been travelling to different places in the Americas to digitized endangered parish records. They have uploaded to the web these records for public and free access. Although we are using only baptismal records from Africans and African descendants, the Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slaves Societies contain burial, marriage, and many other type of civil records. All these documents have a particularity that makes them a perfect candidate for a digital database project. Regarding period of time, place of origin or language, these records are quite homogeneous. The explanation lies in the centralized nature of the Catholic church. Thus, we are not facing the disparity of information that has faced other similar digital projects. 

This is an example of a baptismal record from the parish of “San Carlos” in Matanzas, Cuba.

baptismal record

These are some of the fields from this particular baptismal record:

  1.  Date of baptism: Sunday, May 30, 1830
  2.  Priest: D. Manuel Francisco Garcia
  3. Age Category: “Parbulo” (Infant)
  4. Date of birth: May 2nd, 1830
  5. Filiation: legitimate (born from married parents)
  6. Father’s name: Francisco (it is also Criollo)
  7. Mother’s name: Maria de la O
  8. Nation: Ganga (African denomination used in Cuba)
  9. Legal status: Slave
  10. Owner: D. Francisco Hernandez Fiallo
  11. Name of the baptized individual: Felipe
  12. Godmother’s name: Ceferina
  13. Godmother’s African “nation”: Mina            

Baptismal records are fairly homogeneous regarding period of time or location:

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Finally, after some discussions and after comparing different baptismal records from diverse regions and period of time, we created this relational diagram. The following diagram show all the fields from BARDSS and the hierarchical relation among them: