African American Resources for Virginia

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Slaves Awaiting Sale

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

  • 1853-1866 Virginia, Slave Birth Index, 1853-1866 at FamilySearch — index and images - How to Use this Collection
  • 1865-1872 Virginia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
  • 1863-1878 U.S., Freedmen's Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 at Ancestry - index and images ($)
  • 1935-2009 Virginia, African-American Funeral Programs, 1935-2009 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
  • TransAtlantic Slave Trade Voyages - index
  • Large Slaveholders of 1860 and African American Surname Matches from 1870 - index
  • Virginia Slaves Freed after 1782
  • Unknown No Longer: A Database of Virginia Slave Names
  • African American Digital Bookshelf - a growing list of digital books on FamilySearch and other websites
  • African American Families Database
  • Patriots of Color - index ($)
  • Black Loyalists
  • Virginia Cohabitation Records
  • African American Cemeteries of Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina
  • African American Cemeteries Online
  • Slave Data Collection
  • Virginia Emigrants to Liberia
  • African - American Families Database - The Central Virginia History Researchers
  • Library of Virginia's Virginia Untold collection - digitized images of African American records
  • Guide to African American genealogy in Virginia.

    Strategies[edit | edit source]

    African American research in Virginia can be divided into two general time periods - before and after the Civil War.

    Africa ethnic groups 1996.jpg

    This Wiki page describes research strategies, and major sources of information about African American families from Virginia. As you read this Wiki page, also study the African American Genealogy Wiki pages, which will help you understand more strategies, and the contents and uses of other African American genealogical records.

    Societies dedicated to African American genealogy, such as the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc., include local chapters in Virginia that offer many resources to help people with black ancestry.

    Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. examines the Virginia ancestry of several prominent African Americans living today. His television series will provide you with many tips for tracing your own Virginia family tree.

    Genetic Testing[edit | edit source]

    Many African Americans alive today are having their DNA tested to learn which tribes in Africa they descend from. To learn more about this procedure, read Hiring a DNA Testing Company.

    History[edit | edit source]

    Jamestown Colony

    • First Africans were imported into Virginia in 1619.
    • The First Africans - Jamestown Rediscovery
    • Official Tourism Website of the Commonwealth of Virginia has prepared a nice history of African-Americans in Virginia.
    • Cassandra Newby-alexander.The Arrival of the First Africans to English North America. Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 127 #3 (2019): 186-199. FHL 975.5 B2v v.127 no. 3 (2019)
    • Linda M. Heywood and john K. Thornton. In Search of the 1619 African Arrivals: Enslavement and Middle Passage.Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 127 #3 (2019): 200-211. FHL 975.5 B2v v.127 no. 3 (2019)
    • John C. Coombs. Others not Christians in the Service of the English: Interpreting the Status of Africans and African Americans in Early Virginia.Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 127 #3 (2019): 212-238. FHL 975.5 B2v v.127 no. 3 (2019)
    • K.I. Knight. Unveiled - The Twenty & Odd: Documenting the First Africans in England's American 1619- 1625 and Beyond. First Freedom Publishing, 2019.

    The William Tucker 1624 Society

    Number of Slaves in Virginia[1]
    Year Virginia (now) West Virginia Total
    1790 287,959 4668 292,627
    1800 338,624 7172 345,796
    1810 381,680 10,836 392,516
    1820 410,029 15,119 425,148
    1830 452,084 17,673 469,757
    1840 430,499 18,488 449,087
    1850 452,028 20,500 472,528
    1860 472,494 18,371 490,865

    In 1790, counties with more than 10,000 slaves were Amelia and Caroline. Counties with more than 7500 slaves were Culpeper and Hanover. Counties with more than 5000 slaves were: Albemarle, Amherst, Brunswick, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fauquier, Gloucester, Halifax, Henrico, King and Queen, King William, Norfolk, Southampton, Spotsylvania, and Sussex.[1]

    By 1860, when there were nearly twice as many slaves in the state as there had been 70 years earlier, counties with more than 10,000 slaves were Albemarle, Bedford, Campbell, Caroline, Dinwiddie, Fauquier, Halifax, Henrico, Louisa, Mecklenburg, and Pittsylvania. Counties with more than 7500 slaves were: Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Chesterfield, Hanover, Norfolk, and Spotsylvania.[1]

    Edmund S. Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (1975) (FHL Book 975.5 H6m) is considered one of the best histories of enslaved blacks in Virginia.

    1619-1865: Period of slavery[edit | edit source]

    Information about slaves can be found in slavemasters' deeds (see Virginia Land and Property),slave schedules (see Virginia Census), wills (see Virginia Probate Records), tax lists (see Virginia Taxation), family Bibles and diaries (see Virginia Bible Records), plantation records, interviews with former slaves, and in court order books (see Virginia Court Records). A few parish registers (see Virginia Church Records) list slaves who attended church with their masters. In Virginia the births of slave children should be listed in county birth registers starting in 1853 (see Virginia Vital Records).

    Immigration[edit | edit source]

    Most black slaves were imported into Virginia in the 100 year period between 1676 and 1776, though they were present as early as 1619. Slaves began to outnumber the white indentured servant workforce in the late 1600s. The majority were brought into the colony from Africa and the Caribbean. In particular, the African regions of the Bight of Biafra (modern Nigeria), Senegambia (modern Senegal and The Gambia), West Central Africa (modern Angola and Congo), and the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) were hotspots for Virginia slave traders. Smaller numbers came from the Windward Coast (modern Cote d'Ivoire), Sierra Leone, Bight of Benin (modern Togo and Benin), and Southeast Africa (modern Madagascar and Mozambique) according to surviving shipping registers.[2]

    There was a strong Muslim presence in Senegambia during the period of the slave trade. Many Tidewater Virginia slaves must have been influenced by Islam before their arrival in America.[3] Slaves were usually renamed once they arrived in English-speaking colonies. They were given English Christian names to replace names from their native languages (some of which were Muslim names like Mohammad).[4]

    The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Internet site contains references to 35,000 slave voyages, including over 67,000 Africans aboard slave ships, using first name, age, gender, origin, and place of embarkation. The database documents the slave trade between Africa, Europe, Brazil, the Caribbean, and what is now the United States.

    The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave

    See also Virginia Immigration for further information about this source.

    Records of Slaves[edit | edit source]

    The 1850 and 1860 slave schedules are available on ($) and (free). They identify genders and ages of slaves owned by each master. Earlier census records statistically identify slaves in their masters' households (and free people of color) by approximate age and gender. For a breakdown of the content of the records, see articles on the 1840, 1830, 1820, 1810, 1800, and 1790 censuses.

    Black slaves are often listed as property in their masters' deeds, wills, and probate inventories. The Virginia Historical Society's Guide to African American Manuscripts identifies many records that document slave's names and owners within their large collection.

    • Wynne, Frances Holloway. Register of Free Negroes and Also of Dower Slaves, Brunswick County, Virginia, 1803-1850. Fairfax, Va.: F.H. Wynne, 1983. FHL 975.5575 F2w

    White slave masters who belonged to the Quaker and Methodist faiths often set their slaves free in the 1700s and 1800s.[5] Paul Heinegg prepared a detailed list of Virginia slaves manumitted (freed) between 1782 and the 1820s.

    Unknown No Longer: A Database of Virginia Slave Names is a free online database created by the Virginia Historical Society. Information on many Virginia slaves is available in this work in progress.[6]

    Morales and Valaitis indexed slaves in birth registers across the state for the period 1853 to 1865:

    • Morales, Leslie Anderson and Ada Valaitis. Virginia Slave Births Index, 1853-1865. 5 vols. Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2007. FHL Book 975.5 V22v v. 1-5.

    The Library of Virginia has a collection titled Public claims, slaves and free blacks, 1781-1865. The collection contains tax records for free blacks and slaves, records of condemned blacks who were executed or transported out of state, and records of runaway slaves who were caught and whose owners could not be found. The runaway slaves became the property of the state and were sold to new owners. Copies are available on microfilm at the Family History Library: FHL Films 2027937-2027942.

    African American Families Database online The Central Virginia History Researchers (CVHR) has now released the African-American Families Database online. The first stage of this website provides a template for researchers trying to locate specific African- Americans who lived between circa 1850 and 1880. This period is particularly challenging for African-American family research because of the difficulty in relating ante-bellum and post-bellum records. The two plantations on which the website currently focuses are Hydraulic Plantation (5 miles north of Charlottesville, Va.), and the Bleak House Plantation (9 miles northwest of Charlottesville Va.).The site contains information on the plantations and information on the enslaved people living on these two plantations. The site also contains a blog focusing on the activities of the CVHR group, and details about the Database project.

    National Archives Catalog

    Runaway Slaves[edit | edit source]

    Runaway slave ad.jpg

    Names of hundreds of runaway slaves, their descriptions, owners, and ages appeared in newspapers. They have been published and can be found in:

    • Windley, Lathan A., comp. Runaway Slave Advertisements. 4 vols. (Virginia and North Carolina) Wesport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983. FHL Book 975 F2wL. For Virginia, see volume one.
    • Virginia Runaways

    Many eighteenth-century runaway slave advertisements were published in the Virginia Gazette. Indexed images of the Virginia Gazette (1736-1780) are available online through the Colonial Williamsburg website. (Browse for terms such as "slaves.") Professor Tom Costa and The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia have indexed all the runaway advertisements for slaves mentioned in this publication and other Virginia newspapers (1736-1803), see: The Geography of Slavery in Virginia. These newspapers are valuable resources for all Virginia regions.

    Plantation Records[edit | edit source]

    Virginia Plantation Records Occasionally, slaves are mentioned in plantation records. The Family History Library has several series of plantation records from the periods before and after the Civil War. These are listed in the Author/Title Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under the STAMPP, KENNETH M. or in the Subject Search under PLANTATION LIFE - VIRGINIA or PLANTATION LIFE - SOUTHERN STATES. Records are available at:

    Wikipedia has more about this subject: List of plantations in Virginia

    The Family History Library has microfilms of most of the records described in the guide booklets. Virginia plantation records are scattered throughout.

    Sankofagen: Virginia Plantations

    Personal Narratives[edit | edit source]

    Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States, From Interviews with Former Slaves, recorded after the Civil War, recounts memories of life as a slave.

    Voices from the Days of Slavery, made possible by the Library of Congress, includes free audio files of interviews with former slaves from Albemarle, Essex, Westmoreland counties and the cities of Norfolk and Petersburg.

    Volume 16 of The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography (1941) includes Virginia narratives:FHL Book 973 F2aa series 2 v. 16.

    Charles L. Perdue, Thomas E. Barden and Robert K. Phillips, eds. Weevils in the Wheat: interviews with Virginia ex-slaves.Charlottesville,Virginia: University Pres of Virginia, 1976. FHL 975.5 F2w

    Revolutionary War, 1776-1783[edit | edit source]

    African Americans from Virginia served on both sides of the Revolutionary War. Many Virginia slaves ran away from their masters and joined British forces after a proclamation issued by Lord Dunmore in 1775. He promised freedom for this act, and 500 slaves promptly joined him, whom he organized into the Ethiopian Regiment.[7] Free people of color commonly served their companies as drummers, fifers, and pioneers.[8] Black "pioneers" would "Assist in Cleaning the Streets & Removing all Nuisances being thrown into the Streets."

    An index of slaves and free men of color appears in the Index to Sons of the American Revolution applications. For a discussion, see the Virginia Periodicals article.

    Patriots of Color is a free database at Includes details about 700+ black Virginians in the Revolutionary War.[9]

    Black Loyalist, created by The University of Sydney, includes biographical information about approximately 1,000 black loyalists from the Norfolk, Virginia area.

    Early Migrations Out of Virginia[edit | edit source]

    In the colonial period, slaves were taken by Virginia slave masters into areas where white settlements appeared, such as North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

    Black Loyalists during the Revolution resettled in British Canada after the War concluded.

    In the early 1800s, approximately 500,000 Virginia slaves were forcibly moved to the Deep South.[2] The firm of Franklin & Armfield in Alexandria, Va. was responsible for transporting many of Virginias slaves to the Deep South in what has been dubbed "Slavery's Trail of Tears."[10]Dorothy Williams Potter in Passports of Southeastern Pioneers 1770-1823 (FHL Book 975 W4p) identifies some white families that took slaves with them from Virginia to the territories that are now Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri.

    Legislation[edit | edit source]

    Slavery Legislation. To learn about the laws that affected Virginia slaves, see:

    • Finkelman, Paul. State Slavery Statutes: Guide to the Microfiche Collection. Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America, 1989. FHL Book 975 F23s. Pages 317-56 pertain to Virginia and cover the years 1789-1865. The advertisements are indexed. The records list the names of many slaves and slave owners.

    The Geography of Slavery in Virginia includes a list of Virginia slave laws, references to slaves in the House of Burgesses Journals, and other documents.

    June Purcell Guild; compiled by Karen Hughes White and Joan Peters.Black laws of Virginia : a summary of the legislative acts of Virginia concerning Negroes from earliest times to the present. Warrenton,Virginia?" Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County, Virginia, 1996. FHL 975.5 P3g

    Free People of Color[edit | edit source]

    Not all blacks were slaves in Virginia before the Civil War. Virginia had the largest free black population in the United States.[11] Many black families had been free there since the 1600s. For each eight slaves in the state, there was one free person of color.[12] Some of the largest families had the surnames Cumbo, Driggers, and Goins. Many free people of color descended from black slave men who had children by white indentured servant women.[13] Others were manumitted.

    Number of Free People of Color in Virginia[1]
    Year Virginia (now) West Virginia Total
    1790 12,254 612 12,866
    1800 19,598 526 20,124
    1810 29,292 1278 30,570
    1820 35,470 1413 36,883
    1830 45,181 2167 47,348
    1840 46,809 3033 49,842
    1850 51,251 3082 54,333
    1860 55,269 2773 58,042

    Half of the Virginia free black population lived in the Tidewater region during the nineteenth century. In 1860, one-third lived in towns and cities.[14] Counties with the largest populations of free African Americans in 1790 (more than 450) were Accomack, Dinwiddie, Henrico, Nansemond, Northampton, and Southampton. Counties with more than 250 free blacks were Campbell, Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Isle of Wight, Mecklenburg, Norfolk, Prince George, Surry, Sussex, and York.

    70 years later, in 1860, many of these people's descendants appear to have continued to live in the same areas. Counties with more than 1500 free colored people were Accomack, Dinwiddie, Henrico, Nansemond, Norfolk, and Southampton.[1] The town of Petersburg in 1830 (Dinwiddie County) had 3440 white inhabitants, 2850 slaves, and 2032 free blacks, making the black population the majority.[15]

    Records[edit | edit source]

    Free people of color appear in the same Virginia sources as the white population. They had surnames, interacted with whites, Indians, slaves, and free blacks; bought and sold land, took out marriage licenses, left wills, baptized their children in the Church of England, owned slaves, paid taxes, and sued others in court.[16] Sometimes clerks specified their race, other times, they did not.

    In the nineteenth century, it was not uncommon for free blacks to purchase their enslaved relatives (husbands, wives, children, parents) and maintain their status as slaves in efforts to keep the family intact (newly freed blacks in Virginia faced a discriminatory law (starting in 1806) requiring them to leave the state).[17]

    Jackson, Luther Porter, Negro Office Holders in Virginia, 1865-1895. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International, [1980] FHL 1303161 item 5

    Jackson, Luther Porter, Free Negro Labor and Property Holdings in Virginia, 1830-1860. Chicago, 1937. xiii, 311 leaves.E185.93 V8 J18 1937

    Tax assessors often recorded more information about free blacks in Virginia than census enumerators. Pre-1850 censuses list only the head of household by name, whereas tax lists sometimes list all males over the age of 16 by name. In 1813, according to Paul Heinegg, "many counties(or divisions of a county) mistakenly counted free women of color over 16 as taxables." In addition, "some counties had either a separate list of 'Free Persons of Color' or 'Free Negroes and Mulattos' or a notation after the person's name to indicate their race. Generally these tax lists provide a better source of information than either the registers of free Negroes or the census records."[18] Heinegg abstracted free blacks identified in each Virginia county. His abstracts are available online.

    Census takers between 1790 and 1860 distinguished between free blacks and black slaves. Heinegg prepared lists of "Other Free" Heads of Household in the 1810 Virginia Census (arranged by county) (arranged by name).

    Starting in 1793, each Virginia county court kept a register of free Negroes.[19] Documentation of a black person's freedom status protected them from being forced into slavery. On the other hand, it also restricted their ability to migrate within the state, requiring them to stay in the county where he or she was registered.[20] These registers may give the person's name, age, color, stature, marks and scars, and name the court of emancipation. Several of these registers are found at the Library of Virginia. The Family History Library has copies of some of these registers. They are usually found in the Family History Library Place Search under VIRGINIA, [COUNTY] - COURT RECORDS.

    Example of registers that have been published:

    • Boyd-Rush, Dorothy A. Free Negroes Registered in the Clerk's Office, Botetourt County, Virginia, 1802-1836. Athens, Georgia: Iberian Pub. Co., 1993. FHL Book 975.5 A1 no. 305.
    • Ford, Benjamin. Free Black Registers, Albemarle County (1807-1865). Available online.
    • Hudgins, Dennis. Surry County, VirginiaRegister of Free Negroes. Richmond, Va.: Viginia Genealogical Society, 1995. FHL Book 975.5562 F2h.
    • Kegley, Mary B. Free People of Colour: Free Negroes, Indians, Portuguese and Freed Slaves. Wytheville, Virginia: Kegley Books, 2003. FHL Book 975.5 F2kf; digital version at Family History Archives. (Augusta, Carroll, Giles, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Washington, and Wythe counties.)
    Free Negro in VirginiaFreenegro.jpg

    Black families freed prior to 1820 have been reconstructed in:

    • Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware at (accessed 25 May 2012). About 2,000 pages of family histories based on colonial court order and minute books 1790-1810 census records, tax lists, wills, deeds, free Negro registers, marriage bonds, parish registers, and Revolutionary War pension files.

    A good history to read on the subject is:

    • Russell, John Henderson. The Free Negro in Virginia, 1619-1865. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1913. Digital version at Internet Archive. 1969 reprint: FHL Book 975.5 F2r.

    Migrations Out of Virginia[edit | edit source]

    Many free African American families migrated from Virginia to Robeson County, North Carolina Genealogy in the 1700s.[13] Virginia's free people of color are also now believed to have been the ancestors of Appalachia's Melungeon population.[21] An 1806 law required freed slaves to leave the state within twelve months of gaining their freedom. This stiff law was softened by subsequent laws in the 1820s and 30s.[22] Many free blacks from Virginia had resettled in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan between the 1840s and 1860s.[13]

    • 1865 to the Present

    During the period of segregation, African Americans appear in the same sources as white people, such as censuses (beginning in 1870), marriage registers (though there was often a separate register for "colored marriages"), birth certificates, death certificates, deeds, wills, military records, cemeteries and church records (though they were usually segregated churches and cemeteries), tax records, voter registrations, city directories (though they might appear at the back of the book) and newspapers (including ethnic African American newspapers). Unique records relating specifically to black Virginians include cohabitation records, Freedmen's Bank records, and African American biographies.

    In 1870, five years after slaves were freed, counties with the largest black populations (more than 10,000) were Albemarle, Bedford, Campbell, Dinwiddie, Halifax, Henrico, Louisa, Mecklenburg, Norfolk, and Pittsylvania. Towns with the largest black populations (more than 5000) were Alexandria, Charlottesville, Danville (Dan River), Lynchburg, Norfolk, Petersburg, Portsmouth, and Richmond.[1]

    Perdue Charles, Jr., Thomas E. Barden, and Robert K. Phillips. Weevils in the Wheat: Interviews with Virginia Ex-Slaves. Charlottesville : university Press of Virginia, 1976. FHL 975.5 F2w

    Records[edit | edit source]

    Cohabitation Records are registers created when the former slaves legalized their marriages (they were not allowed to marry until 1866). The tradition during the period of slavery had been to "jump over the broomstick" as a marriage ceremony.[23] This valuable genealogical data is being made available online through the Library of Virginia's Virginia Memory Collection (scroll to "Cohabitation Registers"). More about this source is also found on the Cohabitation Records Wiki page, and the Virginia Cohabitation Records Wiki page.

    Freedman's Savings and Trust Company signature cards or registers may list the slave's former masters, birth date, birthplace, occupation, residences, death information, parents, children, spouse, or siblings. Virginia had three branches of this bank:

    • Lynchburg 1871
    • Norfolk 1871-1874
    • Richmond 1867-1874

    The signature registers for these branches are listed in:

    • Freedman's Savings and Trust Company (Washington, DC) 1865-1874. Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865-1874. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1969. Digital version online; also on film: FHL Film 928591. In each city, depositors' names are arranged by account number.

    Two valuable sources for the period after the Civil War are:

    1. United States. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Virginia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1870. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1977. FHL Films 1549578-97. Most volumes are indexed.
    2. United States. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Virginia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1988. FHL Films 1601562-628. There are several indexes.

    Freedmen's Bureau Virginia Marriages ca. 1815-1866--Names of thousands of former slaves are included in these records. A free index can be viewed at FamilySearch Record Search. Records may include the name of the bride and groom, date of marriage registration, residence, previous marriages, names and ages of children.

    Virginia, Freedmen's Bureau Letters or Correspondence, 1865-1872. (NARA microfilm publication M752) Field office reports, letters received and sent, contracts, certificates, registers, censuses, affidavits and other documents.

    Some additional transcribed records are available at Freedmen's

    Biographies of prominent Virginia African Americans have been published. For example, a list of blacks who held public office during Reconstruction is available in: Negro Office Holders in Virginia, 1865-1895, by Luther Porter Jackson. The Black History Committee of The Friends of the Thomas Balch Library prepared two volumes titled The Essence of a People: Portraits of African Americans Who Made a Difference in Loudoun County, Virginia (2001-2002). FHL Book 975.528 F2f.

    Library of Virginia's Virginia Untold Collection includes digitized records pertaining to African Americans including bills of sale, certificates of importation, cohabitation registers, colonization registers, commonwealth causes, correspondence, coroner's inquisitions, deeds of emancipation, election records, fiduciary records, Free Negro registrations and tax records, freedmen's contracts, freedom suits, indentures of apprenticeship, judgements, legislative petitions, petitions for re-enslavement, petitions to remain in the commonwealth, public claims, requisitions for public use, and runaway slave records for Virginia counties and independent cities.

    Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

    Large African American cemeteries in Virginia have included:

    • The African American Historic Cemeteries of Portsmouth VA on Facebook: A friend's group of descendants and volunteers of the African American Cemeteries of Portsmouth: The Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex (est 1879), Lincoln Memorial Cemetery (est 1912), Grove Baptist Church cemetery (est 1840), and Olive Branch Baptist Church cemetery.
    • The African American Historic Cemeteries of Portsmouth Virginia (web): A group of concerned citizens,descendants, and volunteers of the African American Cemeteries of Portsmouth: The Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex (est. 1879), Lincoln Memorial Cemetery (est 1912), Grove Baptist Church Cemetery (est. 1840), and Olive Branch Baptist Church cemetery.
    • African American Cemeteries of Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina on Facebook. A community forum for the African American cemeteries of Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina. Included are burial sites located in the counties and independent cities in the Tidewater regions of Virginia and North Carolina. Also includes cemetery news from around the United States, and listings in Maryland, New Jersey, and Georgia.
    • African American Cemeteries of Tidewater Virginia (web): A community forum for the African American and slave cemeteries in the Tidewater Region of Virginia. Counties include: Accomack, Arlington, Caroline, Charles City, Chesterfield, Essex, Fairfax, Gloucester, Hanover, Henrico, Isle of Wight, James City, King George, King and Queen, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, New Kent, Northampton, Northumberland, Prince George, Prince William, Richmond, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Surry, Westmoreland, and York. Cities include: Alexandria, Chesapeake, Colonial Heights, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Hampton, Hopewell, Newport News, Norfolk, Petersburg, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Richmond, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg. There are also listings for counties in North Carolina, Georgia, and Maryland.
    • African American Cemeteries Online includes transcribed records from Accomack, Albemarle, Amherst, Dinwiddie, Fairfax, Halifax, Henrico, Page, Prince William, Russell, and Sussex county cemeteries.
    • The Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery includes information about African Americans buried in Freedmen's Cemetery in Alexandria.
    • African-American Cemeteries in Albemarle and Amherst Counties. Project sponsored by the African American Genealogy Group of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

    The J.F. Bell Funeral Home in Charlottesville, Virginia maintained records of African American funerals, which are available online for the years 1917-1989.

    History of African Methodism in Virginia (1908) is available online through the Library of Congress's The Church in the Southern Black Community, 1780-1925 collection.

    The Library of Virginia has prepared a list of African-American Newspapers, such as the Afro-American and the Richmond Planet, which they hold. They have digitized 41 issues of the Afro-American Churchman (1886-1890).

    PBS's interactive Reconstruction: The Second Civil War discusses what life was like for freed slaves and their descendants in the nineteenth century.

    Later Migrations Out of Virginia[edit | edit source]

    There were several large migrations of Virginia African Americans into other parts of the country in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1900, most Southern born blacks living in the North had been born in Virginia or Kentucky.[24]Around the time of World War I, many rural Virginians moved to urban Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, Essex County, New Jersey Genealogy, New York City, and Boston. In the World War II era, many moved to Chicago and Detroit.[2]

    Societies[edit | edit source]

      • The Virginia African-American Funeral Programs, 1935-2009. Project of over 10,000 funeral programs indexed and digitized. Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Virginia (MPAAGHS) Data base at Virginia, African-American Funeral Programs, 1935-2009

    Archives and Libraries[edit | edit source]

    For a list of Virginia plantation records held at various archives, see the Period of slavery section.

    Websites[edit | edit source]

    References[edit | edit source]

    1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Includes modern-day West Virginia and part of the District of Columbia. Ninth Census of the United States: Statistics of Population, Tables I to VIII Inclusive (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1872), 70, 72. Digital version at Internet Archive; FHL Book 973 X2pcu; William O. Lynch, "The Westward Flow of Southern Colonists before 1861," The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Aug. 1943):325. Digital version at JSTOR ($).
    2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 James Ison, AG, CG, "Migration Patterns: An Alternative for Locating African Origins." Lecture given at the National Genealogical Society Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah (2010) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, Knoxville, Tennessee (2010). Free version available online at FamilySearch Wiki.
    3. "Senegambia, The Gold Coast, and the Bight of Benin," The Abolition of the Slave Trade: The Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture (The New York Public Library),, accessed 16 June 2012.
    4. Allan Austin, African Muslims in Antebellum America, A Sourcebook (New York: Garland Press, 1984).
    5. John Henderson Russell, The Free Negro in Virginia, 1619-1865 (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1913), 57-58. Digital version at Internet Archive.
    6. Dick Eastman, "Virginia Historical Society Slave Database Online," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 24 February 2012, [1].
    7. Wikipedia contributors, "Ethiopian Regiment," in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 14 June 2012.
    8. The Free Negro in Virginia, 109-110.
    9. Dick Eastman, " to Publish the Patriots of Color Database," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 24 February 2012,
    10. Edward Ball, "Slavery's Trail of Tears," Smithsonian (Nov 2015):58-82.
    11. The Free Negro in Virginia, 9.
    12. The Free Negro in Virginia, 10.
    13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 The previous school of thought had the colors and genders swapped - it was believed that they descended from illegitimate offspring of white slave masters and black slave women. A 1662 law stated that the offspring of such relations would take the legal status of the mother. Most children resulting from illicit relations between white slave masters and black slave women remained in slavery. See Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware,, accessed 25 May 2012; and The Free Negro in Virginia, 19.
    14. The Free Negro in Virginia, 14-15.
    15. The Free Negro in Virginia, 14.
    16. The Free Negro in Virginia, 89-90.
    17. The Free Negro in Virginia, 92-93.
    18. Email from Paul Heinegg to Nathan W. Murphy, 8 July 2012.
    19. The Free Negro in Virginia, 101.
    20. The Free Negro in Virginia, 106-108.
    21. Travis Loller, "DNA study seeks origin of Appalachia's Melungeons," Yahoo! News, 24 May 2012,
    22. The Free Negro in Virginia, 90.
    23. Christopher A. Nordmann, Ph.D., CGRS, "Jumping Over the Broomstick: Resources for Documenting Slave Marriages," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 91, No. 3 (September 2003):196-216. Digital version at NGS website ($).
    24. 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Study by James Ison.