Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sometimes the Source Comes to You

I enjoy serendipity when it strikes, and it seems to strike more often for those who are primed for it.  Case in point:

Today I received in the mail my copy of El Escribano, the annual journal of the St. Augustine (Florida) Historical Society.  In it is an article taking a different look at the manumission of Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley, an African woman who married the white planter Zephaniah Kingsley.  Kingsley was one of the "nuevos pobladores" (new settlers) whose arrival was recorded in a pair of ledger books contained in legajo (bundle) 743 of the Papeles de Cuba at the General Archive of the Indies in Seville, Spain, which I transcribed during my research there in May, 2008. Kingsley is one of the more prominent figures in my study of the family structure of St. Augustine and the possible influence family relationships had on the history of St. Augustine (or that the history may have had on family relationships).  Anna has long been considered by historians to have been Kingsley's slave.

In this case. the author of the article makes the argument that Kingsley never considered Anna a slave, but that the manumission papers which exist were a sham forced upon the couple by the increasingly unpleasant tenor of race relations in Spanish East Florida as the acquisition of the province by the United States loomed.  The author maintains that Kingsley executed the paper in order to protect Anna and their three mulatto children.  It is an effective case.

What has this article given me?  Family information on Kingsley, his wife, and their children, for one thing, with enough data to allow me to search more specifically for records to back up the information in the article, at least to some extent.  References, for another, which I can examine for the information they contain, and to mine their bibliographies and source notes for other sources.

And it all just fell into my lap -- or was placed in my mailbox.  Be open to all things in your research, and grab the serendipitious bit when it comes your way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To me, that was the most interesting article in this issue of El Escribano and, like you, I've often found the sources as interesting as the article. The sources and contributors from one Texas local history led me to four research cousins full of details on my Gervais and Levy families in Texas and Mississippi.