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North Carolina Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups

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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.

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History[edit | edit source]

A useful history is:

  • Crow, Jeffrey J. A History of African Americans in North Carolina.Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina. Division of Archives and History. Department of Cultural Resources, 1992. (Family History Library book 975.6 F2cjj ; film 1697948 item 9.)

Resources[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

Excellent sources for African American research in North Carolina can be found in:

  • Mitchell, Thornton W. Preliminary Guide to Records Relating to Blacks in the North Carolina State Archives. Archives Information Circular 17 (June 1980): 1–17. (Family History Library book 975.6 B4a.) This guide describes the contents and availability of county, state, private, federal, and miscellaneous records.

Census[edit | edit source]

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. (Family History Library CD-ROM no. 9 pt.. 1652.) 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.

Cohabitation Records[edit | edit source]

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:

  • White, Barnetta McGhee. Somebody Knows My Name: Marriages of Freed People in North Carolina, County by County. 3 vols. Athens, Georgia.: Iberian Publishing, 1995. (Family History Library book , also CD-ROM no. 2894.) This book gives the husband’s and wife’s names when they are given in the records. The records are arranged alphabetically by county. [Find this book in a library near you]

Freedman's Savings Bank[edit | edit source]

The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company was originally 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 birth date; birthplace; occupation; residences; death information; and names of parents, children, spouses, siblings, and former masters. A database of these records, called the Freedman's Bank Records. Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Family History Library, 2001, is available online via FamilySearch.

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. (Family History Library film 928586 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 Family History Library
film 928586 item1
Raleigh 1868–1874 Family History Library
film 928586 item 2
Wilmington 1869, 1872–1874 Family History Library
film 928586 items 3–4

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 975.6 F2r.) This book has abstracts of the genealogical data from the above records and is indexed.

Other Freedman’s Bureau records include:

  • United States. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of North Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1862–1870. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M843. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1972. (Family History Library films 1616841–78.) These records give names of freed slaves and sometimes give genealogical information. The records include letters, ration reports, oaths of office, reports of persons hired, court cases (in some cases families are listed), orphans placed as apprentices (sometimes several brothers and sisters are listed), registrars recommended, land and property records, records and reports of claims, reports on freedmen available for work (only a few names of persons are given), and persons who received food.
  • United States. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of North Carolina, 1865–1870. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M844. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1971. (Family History Library films 1695567–82.) These records contain information about schools built for freed slaves, owners of the schools, teachers in the schools, and teachers’ requests for funds.

Slave Sales[edit | edit source]

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.

Slaves in Wills[edit | edit source]

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

Runaway Advertisements[edit | edit source]

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. (Family History Library book 975 F2wL.) This volume is not indexed. The information is in chronological order from 1751–1790.

Free African Americans[edit | edit source]

Many slave families freed prior to the Civil War 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. (Family History Library
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


Slave Laws[edit | edit source]

Finkelman, Paul. State Slavery Statutes: Guide to the Microfiche Collection. Frederick, Maryland: University Pub. of America, 1989. (Family History Library
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.

Plantation Records[edit | edit source]

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–. (Family History Library book 975 H2sm ser. F, and 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. (On 84 Family History Library  films beginning with 1549813for North Carolina.)
  • 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. (On 455 Family History Library films beginning with 1672791.)

Melungeons [edit | edit source]

  • Bible, Jean Patterson. Melungeons Yesterday and Today. Tennessee: J.P. Bible, 1975. (Family History Library book 973 F2bjp; fiche 6089123.)

Family History Library Collection[edit | edit source]

For books about African Americans, see the Family History Library Catalog, using a Place Search under:



[edit | edit source]