New Database: Black Loyalist Directory, 1783-1788 

The earliest known image of a Black Nova Scotian, in British Canada, in 1788. “A Black Wood Cutter at Shelburne, Nova Scotia.”
Captain William Booth, 1788, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

We are very excited to announce a new database: Black Loyalist Directory, 1783-1788. 

This database was created from The Book of Negroes: African Americans in Exile After the American Revolution, edited by Graham Russell, Gao Hodges, and Alan Edward Brown, which contains transcriptions of Brigadier General Samuel Birch’s inspection roll of black and mixed-race Loyalists who emigrated to Canada, the UK, the West Indies, and Germany at the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783. 

In 1775, the British issued a formal proclamation promising freedom to any enslaved blacks who chose to bear arms with the king’s military forces. Four years later, a second proclamation was issued to include any male or female enslaved person who could support the British military in other roles, such as servants, cooks, nurses, laborers, and laundresses. As a result, tens of thousands of enslaved people fled from their owners to join the British.  

General Birch’s ledger of about 3,000 Black Loyalists was originally created to tally the cost of the United States’ lost property for future compensation; therefore, it includes details such as first and last names, ages, physical descriptions, former owners, former residences, freedom status, military certificates (recorded as GBC or GMC), birth records, ship destinations, and ship captains. There are also the names of those who departed with their British enslavers because the proclamations did not include the enslaved people of Loyalists.  

Most of the information that we captured for this database are emigration records, but we were also able to include military records for anyone with General Birch’s certificate, as well as some birth and manumission records, and records of others who were present. 

This database is presented as part of 10 Million Names, a project which aims to recover names and restore information to families of the estimated 10 million women, men, and children of African descent who were enslaved in the U.S. until emancipation through a collaborative network of expert genealogists, historians, cultural institutions, and descendant communities. This project seeks to amplify the voices of people who have been telling their family stories for centuries, connect researchers and data partners with people seeking answers to their family history questions, and expand access to data, resources, and information about enslaved African Americans. 

To learn more about the 10 Million Names project, please visit the full website, To learn more about the 10 Million Names project, please visit the full website, here

If you would like to become part of the team working on rewarding genealogical projects, please contact Rachel Adams, Database Services Volunteer Coordinator via email at

Note: This database is available to all members, including Guest Members, as part of 10 Million Names.