LaTonya Lawson-Jones is the founder and Project Director of the Nomini Hall Slave Legacy Project (NHSL), a project that chronicles the descendants of the 500+ enslaved Africans, freed by manumission in 1791 by Robert Carter III’s Deed of Gift from his Nomini Hall estate in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Through the NHSL, LaTonya has built on the research of her cousin Thomas Duckenfield to attempt to connect the present-day descendants of the families of the Nomini Hall estate. Through her mother, she is a triple-descendant of the Taylor, Thompson, and Newman families freed by Robert Carter III’s Deed of Gift as well as a descendant of James McCoy, a Westmoreland County, Virginia free Black patriot of the American Revolutionary War.
Her passion for genealogy began as a teenager when she became extremely interested in learning the stories of her ancestors from family elders. A Jackie of all trades, LaTonya leverages her several areas of expertise as a serial entrepreneur. In addition to NHSL, she currently manages a genealogy consultancy, Deeply Rooted, through which she assists families looking to unlock the mysteries of their family history. To date, she has assisted hundreds of families with filling in pieces of their family history through her research. She has been featured in the documentary The Long Shadow, in Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society Journal, Vol. LXVIII, CNN, PBS and other publications. She has led genealogy workshops at conferences, schools, community organizations, as well as local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution. When she is not busy searching for the ancestors, she is an aromatherapist and herbalist providing an array of offerings from ancestral recipes at the Anointed Apothecary. Her 20 years of professional experience in Information Technology with a focus on Systems Software Implementation, IT Project Management, and experience as a full-stack web designer led her to develop Mid-Atlantic Specialty Graphics, a freelance design studio specializing in print and web business identity solutions and business systems consultancy.
LaTonya is a native of Baltimore, Maryland where she lives with her husband, David, and two children, Kennedy and Malcolm. She attended The Baltimore City College High School and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, one of Maryland’s historically Black Colleges and Universities. She is also an avid member of Trinity Chapter #5 Order of the Eastern Star, Prince Hall Affiliated in Baltimore, Maryland.