Cohabitation Registers Added to Digital Collection

Goochland Co. Regsiter of Colored Persons Cohabiting, 1866, information includes ages, occupations, names of slave owners, and names of children the couple had together or from a previous relationship.

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the addition of records from Fluvanna, Goochland, and Montgomery Counties to the cohabitation register digitization project.  This project, via the Virginia Memory website, aims to index, digitize, transcribe, and provide access to all known Virginia cohabitation registers and the related registers of children whose parents had ceased to cohabit.

The cohabitation registers were the legal vehicles by which formerly enslaved couples legitimized their pre-slavery marriages and the children of unions that no longer existed in 1866 due to death or other circumstances such as the wife being sold away.  These records are invaluable resources for genealogists and historians alike.

Goochland and Montgomery have to date only uncovered their cohabitation registers.  Fluvanna, however, includes both the cohabitation register and the register of children whose parents had ceased to cohabit by 1866.  The registers, transcriptions, and searchable indexes are available online along with the other registers from Virginia localities in the Cohabitation Register Digital Collection in Virginia Memory. To find it use either the link provided or go to Virginia Memory, choose Digital Collections, then Collections A to Z, and finally Cohabitation Registers.

For more information on the cohabitation registers, see an earlier blog post Solid Genealogical Gold, about the Register of Colored Persons of Smyth County, Virginia, cohabiting together as Husband and Wife on 27th February 1866.

-Sarah Nerney, Senior Local Records Archivist


  1. Bari said:
    14 December 2011 at 11:45 am

    (The following was taken from an email from Goochland County Deputy Clerk James Richmond. Posted with permission.)

    It is so great that these documents are out there for the public to see and search. The Library is doing a wonderful service by presenting these registers that are so often overlooked in record rooms. They are an invaluable tool in African American genealogical research.

    James Richmond
    Deputy Clerk
    Goochland County Circuit Court

  2. Bari said:
    14 December 2011 at 1:19 pm

    (The following comment was sent in by Montgomery County Clerk Erica Williams.)

    Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office is pleased that the Library of Virginia has made available the index to Montgomery County’s cohabitation Register, recently re-discovered earlier this year. This information contains significant and historical information to African Americans researching their genealogical history, which was previously unknown. Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk’ s Office is grateful to the Library of Virginia for their coordinated efforts to properly preserve this document and also the Library’s work to index and provide this priceless information on-line to share with the public.

    Erica W. Williams, Clerk
    Circuit Court of Montgomery County

  3. Marvin Bowman said:
    28 February 2016 at 12:45 am

    This is great. Can someone do the same for Pittsylvania County?

    • Vince said:
      29 February 2016 at 9:06 am

      Mr. Bowman,

      Unfortunately, a cohabitation register for Pittsylvania County has not yet been identified. Not all of the registers survive to the present day. The LVA will continue its efforts to locate surviving cohabitation registers in county court records.

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