African American History and Genealogy in North Carolina

African Americans in North Carolina have a long, vibrant and frequently painful history.  Beginning in 1540, 130 years before the founding of Charles Town, several Africans were members of the Hernando DeSoto expedition through the Southeast.  According to the chronicles of this expedition, one of these African adventurers fled with the captured Native American “Queen” of Cofitachique and possibly became the first person of African descent to live in North Carolina.

Although much of African American history is marked by slavery and the fight for equality, it is also varied and deep in its contribution to North Carolina culture.  Finding resources for African American genealogical and historical research can be difficult, but determined research can lead to rich rewards for those who can access the right materials. That is where the Wilson County Local History and Genealogy Room can be a powerful tool to help researchers of African American history and genealogy.  Below are some suggested resources to get you started.

ImageBlack genesis : a resource book for African-American genealogy
by James M. Rose

ImageBlack roots : a beginner’s guide to tracing the African American family tree
by Tony Burroughs

ImageThe waterman’s song : slavery and freedom in maritime North Carolina
by David S.Cecelski

ImageTo free a family : the journey of Mary Walker
by Sydney Nathans


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