African American Place of Origin

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Back to African American Genealogy

Place of Origin

80+ percent of all slaves arriving in North America came directly from Africa

  • Senegambia—13 percent (coast between present day Senegal and Gambia)
  • Gold Coast—16 percent (most of present day Ghana)
  • Bight of Biafra—23 percent (most of present day Nigeria and Cameroon))
  • Windward Coast—11 percent (present day Liberia and Ivory Coast)
  • Region between Angola and Congo—25 percent (present day Congo, Zaire, Angola, Namibia)

Ports of Arrival

As popular as DNA is in providing clues to ancestral origins, learning the likely port of entry for one’s African American ancestry will give important clues to their place of origin in Africa. Below are distributions of African origins based upon entry into the U.S. in South Carolina, Virginia, and New Orleans.

South Carolina

40 percent of all Africans arrived through Charleston, SC from the following areas:

  • Angola/Congo represented 40 percent
  • Senegambia represented 19 percent
  • Windward Coast represented 16 percent
  • Gold Coast represented 13 percent


Others arrived at various ports in Virginia from the following locals:

  • Bight of Biafra represented 37.7 percent
  • Gold Coast represented 16 percent
  • Angola/Congo represented 15.7 percent
  • Senegambia represented by 14.9 percent
  • Windward Coast represented by 6.3 percent
  • Sierra Leone represented by 5.5 percent
  • Mozambique/Madagascar represented by 4.1 percent
  • See Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement by David Fischer and James Kelly, University of Virginia Press, 2000; page 61.

New Orleans

  • 92 percent of Africans brought to Louisiana arrived between 1719 and 1730.
  • Two-thirds of slaves arriving in Louisiana were from Senegambia, mostly Bambara people from present day Mali, and Wolof’s located at the mouth of the Senegal River.
  • Nearly 30 percent of enslaved people to Louisiana came from the Bight of Benin near present day Togo and Benin.
  • The remaining 5 percent came from the Congo or Angola.
  • See Gwendolyn Hall’s book, Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in Eighteenth Century Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1995), 34-40.

North Carolina

Few slaves were brought directly to North Carolina ports because natural harbors were lacking.

See Dee Parmer Wootor’s comprehensive book Finding a Place Called Home: A Guide to African American Genealogy and Historical Identity, especially chapter 14, "The Last African and the First American" (New York: Random House, 1999).

Slave Generations

First African came to Jamestown in 1619. William Tucker, born in 1624, was the first recorded African American born on American soil.  There were 12 generations of slavery between 1619 and 1865. According to Finding a Place Called Home, until the 1820s, more than twice as many people of African descent crossed the Atlantic Ocean as Europeans.