African American Resources for North Carolina

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African American Resources

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Introduction

Resources for African American research fall into two periods: pre-and post-Civil War. Post-Civil War research consists of consulting the same record types as non-African-Americans. Pre-Civil War records consist of slave importation declarations, plantation records, emancipation records, apprenticeship bonds for freedmen, North Carolina hiring practices, census records, white family records, church and cemetery records, military records, vital records, and numerous North Carolina court records. African American vital records were usually recorded in separate books for many years.

Online Resources

Research Strategy

History

Number of Slaves in North Carolina[1]
1860 1850 1840 1830 1820 1810 1800 1790
331059 288548 245817 245601 204917 168824 133296 100572


For books about African Americans, see the FamilySearch Catalog, using a Place Search under:

NORTH CAROLINA- MINORITIES

NORTH CAROLINA- SLAVERY AND BONDAGE

Research Guides

  • McBride, Ransom. "Searching for the Past of the North Carolina Black Family in Local, Regional, and Federal Record Resources," The North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2 (May 1983):66-77. FHL Book 975.6 B2s v. 9.
  • Mitchell, Thornton W. Preliminary Guide to Records Relating to Blacks in the North Carolina State Archives. Archives Information Circular 17 (June 1980): 1–17. FHL 975.6 B4a This guide describes the contents and availability of county, state, private, federal, and miscellaneous records.

Resources

Biographies

Cemeteries

  • The African American Cemeteries of Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina (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.

Census Records

Census records are an important source for studying African American families. The 1850 and 1860 mortality schedules list all persons who died in the 12 months prior to the census and include the name, age, residence, state of birth, occupation, and cause of death. From 1870, censuses give every African American's name, age, state of birth, and other information. See:

  • African Americans in the 1870 Census. Family Tree Maker’s Family Archives, no.165. Brøderbund Software, Novato, California, 1996. FHL CD-ROM no. 388 This disc does not circulate to Family History Centers. This source indexes 660,000 African Americans in the 1870 federal census of Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, and St. Louis. It includes name, state, county, town, birth date, birthplace, National Archives film number, and page number.
  • 1860 Granville County Slave Schedule.Abstracted and explained by Barnetta McGhee White, a complete listing that includes maps showing locations of where the families resided.

Church Records

Emancipation Records

Funeral Homes

Genealogies

Land and Property

  • North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979 - contain loose papers relating to the settlement of estates including such matters as provision for heirs including minor children as well as distribution of funds, land and property, including slaves

Plantation

Slaves are occasionally mentioned in records of plantations described in the following series of booklets:

  • Stampp, Kenneth M. A Guide to Records of Ante- Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War: Series F, Selections from the Manuscript Department, Duke University Library. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1991. FHL book 975 H2sm ser. F and FHL book 975 H2sm ser. J. The guide for series F lists records at the Duke University library. The series J guide describes holdings at the library of the University of North Carolina. The guide booklets are not indexed, but, they describe in detail the contents of each microfilm. The Family History Library has microfilms of the North Carolina plantation records described in these guides:
  • Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War: Series F, Selections from the Manuscript Department, Duke University Library. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1986–87. FHL film 1549774 (first film)
  • Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War: Series J, Selections from the Southern Historical Collection, Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Frederick, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1989–1992. FHL film 1672791 (first of 455)
  • Sankofagen Wiki, which contains info on Plantations and the names of many Slaves who lived on them.

Oral Histories

Other Records

Cohabitation Records
Slaves were not allowed to legally marry. In 1886 many Cohabitation Certificates were issued and are on microfilm at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh. This is a great guide that provides information about Cohabitation records and more more: Guide To Research Materials In the North Carolina State Archives. To find Cohabitation records for each county, look under "marriages."

For 1814 to 1866 information about husbands and wives who were former slaves in North Carolina has been published in:

Military Records

Newspapers

Probate Records

Reconstruction Records

Number of Free People of Color in North Carolina[1]
1860 1850 1840 1830 1820 1810 1800 1790
30463 27463 22732 19543 14712 10266 7043 4975

Many black families freed prior to 1820 are listed in: Heinegg, Paul. Free African-Americans of North Carolina and Virginia: Including the Family Histories of More Than 80% of Those Counted as "All Other Free Persons" in the 1790 and 1800 Census. 3rd. ed. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1993. FHL book 975.6 F2hp This book provides information concerning 281 families and often traces a family to the 1860s. An updated version is available online for free at Free African Americans.com.

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:

North Carolina had three branches of this bank at New Bern, Raleigh, and Wilmington. The signature registers for these branches are found in:

Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (Washington, D.C.), 1865–1874. Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, 1865–1874. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0816. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1969. Available online at FamilySearch, United States, Freedmans Bank Records, 1865-1874. Contains records for North Carolina.) In the records for each city, depositors are listed in order by account number. The registers of each North Carolina branch are as follows:

New Bern 1869–1874 FHL film 928586 item 1
Raleigh 1868–1874 FHL film 928586 item 2
Wilmington 1869, 1872–1874 FHL film 928586 item 3


The records of the North Carolina branches are published in:

  • Reaves, Bill. North Carolina Freedman’s Savings Trust Company Records. Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1992. (Family History Library book FHL book 975.6 F2r. This book has abstracts of the genealogical data from the above records and is indexed.


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.[3] 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:

Visit the African American Freedmen's Bureau Records page to learn more about utilizing these records.

School Records

Slavery Records

Slaves are sometimes mentioned in deeds (see North Carolina Land and Property), in wills (see North Carolina Probate Records), in tax records, and in court order books (see North Carolina Court Records). You must know the name of the slave owner, and you can then search these records by the owner’s name to find the name of the slave. A few parish registers (see North Carolina Church Records) list slaves who attended church with their masters. Their births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, or burials may be listed.

The following surnames in this database: North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970 have wills that mention slaves by name

  • Arthur Branch
  • Thomas Crowder
  • John Rhodes


Many transcribed wills for all of the Counties have the names of Slaves included. Choose the County of your choice and visit the site's Will Index pages:

Runaway Advertisements

Runaway slave ad

Names of hundreds of runaway slaves, their descriptions, owners, and ages can be found in:

  • Windley, Lathan A., comp. Runaway Slave Advertisements. Vol.1, Virginia and North Carolina. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1983. FHL 975 F2wL This volume is not indexed. The information is in chronological order from 1751–1790.

Slave Laws
Finkelman, Paul. State Slavery Statutes: Guide to the Microfiche Collection. Frederick, Maryland: University Pub. of America, 1989. FHL book 975 F23s This book has information about laws passed that mention particular slaves. It is indexed by subjects, names, and geographic locations. The time period for names of North Carolina slaves is 1789–1854.

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

Divorce

Voting Registers

Archives and Libraries

North Carolina Museum of History
5 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601
Phone: 919-807-7900

Societies

Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society – North Carolina chapter

North Carolina African American Heritage Commission
NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
109 E. Jones St.
4632 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-4632
Email: ncaahc@ncdcr.gov


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ninth Census of the United States: Statistics of Population, Tables I to VIII Inclusive (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1872), 53-54. Digital version at Internet Archive; FHL Book 973 X2pcu.
  2. Dick Eastman, "Archives.com to Publish the Patriots of Color Database," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 24 February 2012, http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2012/02/archivescom-to-publish-the-patriots-of-color-database.html.
  3. "African American Records: Freedmen's Bureau," "African American Heritage," National Archives, accessed 11 May 2018.