If you are searching for free African Americans in the colonial South, we have two valuable volumes
in our collection:
Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina from the Colonial Period to about 1820
Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware: From the Colonial Period to 1810
Both books are by Paul Heinegg. While working on his own genealogy, Heinegg became interested in the history of free black families in the South. Many free African Americans were freed in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. They often formed relationships with white servants or Native Americans and owned land and property. With the spread of plantations in the mid-1700s, legal restrictions on miscegenation and manumissions and increasing racism, caused free people of color to migrate elsewhere or to begin "passing" as white. Some freed African Americans were even forced back into slavery. Heinegg's work is indispensable for understanding and following the lives and genealogies of free people of color in the colonial period.
Heinegg tells the story of free African Americans through family histories. Heinegg provides detailed information including marriages and births as well as land and court transactions and even physical descriptions when those details are available. He pulls this information from census records, tax lists, wills, deeds, marriage bonds, parish registers, Revolutionary War pensions and "free Negro registers."
This is an important volume for researching African Americans in the colonial era.