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Culpeper County Cohabitation Register, 1866


Cohabitation registers are among the most important genealogical resources for African Americans attempting to connect their family lines back through the oftentimes unrecorded past to their enslaved ancestors. The registers date from 1866 and provide a snapshot in time for the individuals recorded therein, offering a wealth of information that may otherwise be impossible, or at least very difficult, to uncover. Cohabitation registers were the legal vehicles by which former slaves, who were previously prohibiited from legally marrying, legitimized both their marriages and their children. The extensive information about an individual  contained in a cohabitation register is literally priceless, both for its detail and because it is often the first time that a former slave appears officially in the public record. 

Citation: Culpeper County (Va.) Register of Children of Colored Persons whose Parents had ceased to cohabit which the Father recognizes to be his, 27th February 1866, [register page 1]. Cohabitation Registers Digital Collection. Library of Virginia.


Social Studies: VS.1, VS.7, USI.1, USI.9, USII.1 USII.3, VUS.1, VUS.7
English: 4.7, 5.7,

Suggested Questions

Analyze: What kinds of demographic information can be found in this document? How might it be helpful to someone trying to trace his or her family history? 

In Their Shoes: Choose a person from the register and write a diary entry in that person's voice about the day your name was entered into the register. How did you feel? What were you thinking?


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