African American Resources for North Carolina

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
North Carolina Wiki Topics
North Carolina flag.png
Beginning Research
Record Types
North Carolina Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

Introduction[edit | edit source]

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.

  • Marvin L. Michael Kay and Lorin Lee Cary. Slavery in North Carolina, 1748-1775. Chapel Hill, North Carolina : University of North Carolina Press, c1995. FHL 975.6 H6k
  • State Library of North Carolina: How to Find Slave records
  • Online Resources[edit | edit source]

    FamilySearch Collections

  • 1861-1872 United States, Freedmen's Bureau Marriages, 1861-1872 at FamilySearch
  • 1862-1870 North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records, 1862-1870 at FamilySearch
  • 1863-1872 North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872 at FamilySearch
  • 1865-1874 Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1874 at FamilySearch
  • African American Digital Bookshelf - a growing list of digital books on FamilySearch and other websites
  • Discover Freedmen - this site searches all of the Freedmen's Bureau record collections on FamilySearch altogether (and redirects there)
  • Additional Online Resources

    Research Strategy[edit | edit source]

    History[edit | edit source]

    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:



    Research Guides[edit | edit source]

    • 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[edit | edit source]

    Biographies[edit | edit source]

    Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

    • 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[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. 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[edit | edit source]

    Emancipation Records[edit | edit source]

    Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

    Genealogies[edit | edit source]

    Land and Property[edit | edit source]

    • 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[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. At various libraries (WorldCat); 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. At various libraries (WorldCat); 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. At various libraries (WorldCat); 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[edit | edit source]

    Other Records[edit | edit source]

    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[edit | edit source]

    Newspapers[edit | edit source]

    Probate Records[edit | edit source]

    Reconstruction Records[edit | edit source]

    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

    Freedman’s Bank[edit | edit source]

    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[edit | edit source]

    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[edit | edit source]

    Slavery Records[edit | edit source]

    Additional resources are found on the African American Slavery and Bondage Wiki page.

    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:

    Digital Library on American Slavery: People Not Property - Slave Deeds of North Carolina, database of almost 10,000 property deeds (bills of sale, deeds of trust, divisions of property)

    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.

    Slave Records at the Family History Library[edit | edit source]

    Vital Records[edit | edit source]

    Birth[edit | edit source]

    Marriage[edit | edit source]

    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[edit | edit source]

    Divorce[edit | edit source]

    Voting Registers[edit | edit source]

    Archives and Libraries[edit | edit source]

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

    Societies[edit | edit source]

    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

    References[edit | edit source]

    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, " to Publish the Patriots of Color Database," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 24 February 2012,
    3. "African American Records: Freedmen's Bureau," "African American Heritage," National Archives, accessed 11 May 2018.