Counting the Free Africans of Brazil
Historical and modern estimates range between eight and fourteen thousand Africans liberated in Brazil between 1821 and 1856.
The most important historical counts, conducted near the end of the Free African regime are:
The chief sources for the identity of individual Africans are nominal lists and certificates of freedom generated by Brazilian authorities at the moment a liberated Africans acquired a unique cohort-specific number [matricula], a Christian or Classical name, and a registry of nação. The sole known case in which African names were registered was the Brilhante, intercepted in July 1838. The term often used to describe the assignment of name, number, and nação was “marking” [Portuguese: tirar as marcas] in reference to registries of the type and location of body markings [marcas]. In addition to these original nominal lists, the nominal lists generated during the matriculas made between 1864 and 1868 have been used to confirm the identity of each known African, via cross-referencing of name and nation. Discrepancies have been noted.
The Curador dos Africans Livres maintained registries of most of the Free Africans liberated in Rio de Janeiro. Each registry was organized by the original condemned vessel [carregamento] and then by matricula.
In the course of their lives as emancipados, some Free Africans used a given name or nação other than those recorded in the marking. However, Brazilian authorities typically insisted that the original name, nação, and matricula be used to confirm identities in petitions submitted by Africans. In cases of death, body markings were sometimes used for positive identification.
In The Broken Paths of Freedom, Africans will typically be identified by name, nação, ship, and matricula. For example, Marcelo Congo, Cezar 29; Augusta Angola, Duqueza de Bragança 159.
To the extent possible, the spelling given at marking is used for Africans whose given names had alternate spellings [e.g., Franklim and Franklin, Apollinaria and Apolinaria].
nação: gender: o/a?
In the Search and Visualization Tool, each African will also be linked to a unique identifier. The convention for assigning a unique identifier to each African has been to use the Voyage ID from the Slave Trade Database and the matricula assigned at marking. For example, the adult Marcelo, nação Congo, matricula 29 from the Cezar [Slave Trade Database Voyage ID: 1723] has been assigned the unique ID 1723-0029. Augusta Angola, nação Angola, matricula 159 of the Duqueza de Bragança [Slave Trade Database Voyage ID: 1328] has been assigned the unique ID 1328-0159.
In cases in which the Slave Trade Database does not register the voyage that brought the African to Brazil [for example, in the Africans whose “carregamento” was the Casa de Correção], a four-digit ID has been assigned to each African, followed by the matricula. For example, Thomaz Congo, Casa de Correção 128 has been assigned the unique ID XXXX-0128.
The chief sources for the identity of concessionaires are three nominal lists of concessionaires assembled in 1845, 1860, and 1865. Supplemental materials include the petitions submitted by Africans and the concessionaires, found mainly in the archives of the Brazilian ministry of justice.
In December 2012, all known concessionaire names associated with all known Africans and carregamentos were compiled into a single list. After duplicates were eliminated and spelling variants assigned an alias, each unique concessionaire was assigned a four- [FIVE?] digit unique identifier. That identifier, along with a standardized complete name, will appear in the results of the Search and Visualization Tool.