African American Resources for Florida

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Introduction

A list of resources for researching African American ancestors in Florida.

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Online Resources

Record Collections

Lists of Sources

Research Strategy

History

  • Florida Memory, The Black Experience: A Guide to African American Resources in the State Library and Archives of Florida (accessed 6 April 2012).
  • Brown, Canter, Jr. Florida's Black Public Officials, 1867-1924, (Tuscaloosa, Alabama:University of Alabama Press, c1998). FHL book 975.9 D34b
  • Richardson, Joe Martin. African Americans in the reconstruction of Florida, 1865-1877. ( Tuscaloosa : University of Alabama Press, [2008]). Find at a library near you.

Resources

Biographies

  • Access Genealogy. Florida Slave Narratives. (accessed 6 July 2012). Interviews with former slaves done during the 1930s.

Cemeteries

  • Access Genealogy: Florida African American Cemeteries. This is a list of African American cemeteries in many of the counties in Florida. Some have links to transcripts of the tombstones in the cemetery.
  • Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society. Key West African Cemetery. This report details the evidence of an African cemetery at Higgs Beach in Key West, Florida, and describes how it was located. Includes facsimiles of historical records, maps, and photos. In 1860, the U.S. Navy intercepted three American-owned slave ships taking Africans to Cuba. Now refugees, the Africans were taken to Key West before being sent to Liberia. Many died and were buried at Higgs Beach.

Census Records

  • Florida, State Census, 1867-1945 ($) - information usually includes name, residence, age, gender, race, relation to family, marital status, birthplace and parents' birthplace, occupation, and degree of education
  • Florida State Census, 1885 - lists name, race, gender, age, relationship to head of household, marital status, occupation, health, education, birthplace, and parents' birthplaces
  • Florida State Census, 1935 - lists name, address, age, gender, race, relation to family, birthplace, degree of education, and occupation
  • Florida State Census, 1945 - lists name, address, age, gender, birthplace, degree of education, and occupation

Church Records

Emancipation Records

Funeral Homes

Genealogies

Land and Property

Plantation

Oral Histories

Other Records

Military Records

  • Documents Relating to the Military and Naval Service of Blacks Awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor from the Civil War to the Spanish-American War, (Washington [District of Columbia]:The National Archives, 1973), on 4 microfilm reels (now digitized) - FHL films 1601548-1601551.

Newspapers

Probate Records

Reconstruction Records

Freedman’s Bank

An excellent source is the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (visit the African American Freedman's Savings and Trust Company Records page to learn more). This company was created to assist African American soldiers of the Civil War and freed slaves. Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company signature cards or registers from 3 March 1865 to 25 July 1874 may list the name of the depositor, date of entry, age, birthplace, residence, complexion, name of employer or occupation, wife or husband’s name, death information, children’s names, name of father and mother, brothers’ and sisters’ names, remarks, and signature. Early books sometimes contained the name of the former master or mistress and the name of the plantation. Copies of death certificates were sometimes attached to the entries. The collection is organized alphabetically by state, then city where the bank was located, then date the account was established, then account number.

Online collections of Freedman's Bank records:

Freedmen's Bureau

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was created by the US government in 1865 until 1872 to assist former slaves in the southern United States. The Bureau created a wide variety of records extremely valuable to genealogists. Such documents include censuses, marriage records, and medical records. These records often include full names, former masters and plantations, and current residences.[1] For 1865 and 1866, the section on abandoned and confiscated lands includes the names of the owners of the plantations or homes that were abandoned, confiscated, or leased. It gives the county and location, a description of the house, the number of acres owned, and the number of cabins of former slaves. These films do not appear to contain the names of former slaves.

To find Freedmen's Bureau records:

Other FamilySearch collections not included:

School Records

Slavery Records

Vital Records

Birth

Marriage

The Freedmen's Bureau (1865-1872) was created by the US government to assist former slaves in the southern United States. One of their responsibilities was to record the marriages (past and present) of the former slaves. These records can be found in the collections below and include the lists of marriages that occurred previously, marriage certificates, and marriage licenses. The information contained on the records may include the name of the husband and wife/groom and bride, age, occupation, residence, year or date of marriage, by whom, number of children, and remarks.

Death

  • Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 Index only - lists name, death date and place, gender, and race
  • Florida Deaths, 1877-1939 Index only - lists name, death date and place, burial date and place, gender, race, age, birth date and place, marital status, and parents and their birthplaces
  • Florida Deaths and Burials, 1900-1921 Index only - lists name, death date and place, burial date and place, age, birth place and date, occupation, race, marital status, spouse, and parents and their birthplaces

Divorce

Voting Registers

Archives and Libraries

African-American Research Library and Cultural Center
2650 Sistrunk Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311
Phone: (954) 357-6282
Website: Library and Cultural Center
There are branches in various locations. They have resources with information on local history and books from Africa, the Caribbean and North and South America.

Africana Heritage Project
University of South Florida (USF)
4202 East Fowler Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33620
Email: info@africanaheritage.com
Website: Africana Heritage Project
Their mission "is to rediscover precious records that document the names and lives of former slaves, freed persons and their descendants, and share those records on this free Internet site."

Carol E. Mundy African American Cultural and Diasporic Research Center
University of Central Florida
Building: CNH110
4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, Florida 32816
Phone: (407) 823-0026
Email: africana@ucf.edu
Website: Cultural and Diasporic Research Center
The research center promotes the study of African American history and research the history that pertains to the central Florida area.

Meek-Eaton Black Archives
Florida A&M University
445 Gamble Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32307
Phone: (850) 599-3020
Website: Meek-Eaton Black Archives
The majority of the archival holdings are records about the history of Africans and African Americans, especially their institutions and organizations, with an impressive holding of manuscripts, rare books, journals, magazines, maps, newspapers, and photographs.

State Library and Archives of Florida
R.A. Gray Building, Second Floor
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250
Phone: (850) 245-6600
Website: State Library and Archives of Florida
The Archives is the central repository for the state government. It collects historically significant records, including private manuscripts.

Societies

Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society
Central Florida Chapter
P.O. Box 1347
Orlando, Florida 32802-1347
Email: centralflorida@aahgs.org
Website: Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society

Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network
P.O. Box 4261
Tallahassee, Florida 32315
Telephone: (850) 681-7881
Website: Heritage Preservation Network
"Its mission is to promote the preservation of African American landmarks and legacies...". It has a directory of Florida African-American museums with links to their websites.

References

  1. "African American Records: Freedmen's Bureau," "African American Heritage," National Archives, accessed 11 May 2018.