Written by Robert Hoyt on Wednesday March 13, 2019

About the Project:

The Vincent J. Rosivach Register of Slaves in Fairfield, Connecticut (1639-1820) is a comprehensive database of enslaved individuals in colonial and post-colonial Fairfield. This database is searchable, and will be able to track projection of slave families as well as movement across households and other important information related to the slave, their family, and their history. While there are some distinct contrasts between Northern and Southern slavery, one of the key similarities is the lack of proper record-keeping of these enslaved individuals’ identities. Our database compiles information including birth, death, and distribution of slaves in colonial and post-colonial Fairfield into a single site to help formulate a once-broken narrative. In several cases, we were able to piece together entire families of slaves, identifying a lineage previously scattered across countless documents.

This database was Dr. Rosivach’s passion project, and a culmination of almost 30 years of work. When he passed away in April of 2018, the research team continued to work to complete the project. Thanks to the support from the Vincent J. Rosivach Collaborative Research Fund, the mentorship of Dr. Giovanni Ruffini, and the support of so many other faculty and staff at Fairfield University, this goal was achieved. The database serves as a living representation of Dr. Rosivach’s work, and we are so proud to have made a contribution.

The Register uses primary source property documents, church records, newspaper advertisements, military records, and museum archives to compile a list of slaves and the households they were a part of. In doing this, we attempt to identify this often-overlooked history by providing real record of birth, death, marriage, family, and service as best available and appropriate as possible. That doesn't mean this is an exhaustive list; there are so many more places the team has not yet looked. The research continues. Have a lead? email us at fairfieldslaveryproject@gmail.com.

The Research Team:

Alec Lurie is a recent graduate of Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. He is currently a special education aide on Long Island, New York.

Olivia McEvoy is a recent graduate of Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. She currently is working in customer relations and hopes to return to graduate school in the coming years. 

Brendan McCarthy is a senior at Fairfield University. Brendan plans to continue to see this project grow in his senior year through the Vincent J. Rosivach Collaborative Research Fund.

Previous members of the research team include Anna Kamradt, Katie Henderson, and Erin Monahan. Many thanks to you all!

CONTACT US: fairfieldslaveryproject@gmail.com

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the following:

Dr. Vincent J. Rosivach, Dr. Giovanni Ruffini, Dr. Elizabeth Rose of the Fairfield Museum and History Center, the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, the Fairfield Probate Court, the Westport Museum, and Robert Hoyt.