Future Research and Concluding Thoughts

The story of Louisa Ferguson and her mother Delia Clark are rare for the location and time period. Out of over 2.3 million African Americans living in the 1830s United States, only 300,000 (~14%) were free. Delia being free in the South was even more uncommon. When I visited the Historic Records Center, the workers who helped me research were excited and surprised to see this history of Delia Clark and Louisa Ferguson, which attests to the rarity of these women in their time.

The main issue I encountered in my research was the lack of available information (this did not present too much of a problem). This lack of surviving information could be because keeping of information was not as easy in the nineteenth century. However, it can often be seen that information on white Americans in this same time period is not as limited. At least some of the reason why the Black Lives Next Door project has been difficult for some is because black Americans were usually not regarded as important enough to keep full and accurate documentation on. Their records were often not kept in as safe and secure condition as those of white Americans. So much of black history was discarded because of this, and stories like Louisa’s go unheard of as a consequence. The amount of digging that had to be done online and in the Historic Records Center just to piece together this story would not be necessary for many white counterparts in this time.

In order to reconcile the aforementioned issue, more research should be done on the reasons why black records and information is missing so much context. It is an injustice that so many black Americans cannot have their voices heard through historic records, and this issue needs to be acknowledged and given an explanation.

By: Alyssa Turner

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