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Genealogy: African American Sources


Databases Specifically About African Americans in Ancestry Library Edition

African American Photo Collection, 1850-2000

African Americans in Delaware, 1890, U.S. Census

The African in Canada: The Maroons of Jamaica and Nova Scotia

Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820 (Slave) (Also called Louisiana Slave Records)

Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719-1820 (Free)

Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina Black Deaths 1871-89

Freedman’s Bank Records, 1865-1874

Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records

Illinois Servitude and Emancipation Records, 1720-1865

Louis Hughes, Thirty Years a Slave, 1832-62

Louisiana Slave Records (Also called Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820)

New Orleans, Louisiana, Slave Manifests, 1807-1860 (World Archives Project)

Slave Narratives

U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865.
Records of the more than 178,000 men who served in the U.S. Colored Troops regiments during the Civil War

U.S. Census Records, 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules

U.S. Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1865-1872


Note: there are many more databases available in (personal subscription) than in Ancestry Library Edition. 

African American Newspapers

Comprehensive resources or lists of African-American newspapers are difficult to find. The following information offers useful starting points.

The Colored American (Washington, DC)

Location: Internet (available in Chronicling America) (1899-1904)

The Colored American (New York, NY)
Location: Library Databases (restricted to University of Delaware) (available in Accessible Archives) (1837-1841)

Freeman (Indianapolis, IN)
Location: UD Library Microfilm S 2239 (Lib. has:1888-1916)

Norfolk Journal and Guide (Norfolk, VA)
Location :UD Library Microfilm S 154 (Lib. has: 1916-1917, 1921-1966)

Article about the Journal and Guide (PBS).

Pittsburgh Courier
Location: UD Library Microfilm S 182 (Lib. has: 1911-1912,1923-1950)

Article about the Pittsburgh Courier (PBS)

Richmond Planet (Richmond, VA)
Location: Internet (available in Chronicling America) (1883-1938)

The Washington Bee (Washington, DC)
Location: Internet (available in Chronicling America) (1884-1922)

Related Newspaper

The National Era (Washington, DC)
Location: Library Databases (restricted to University of Delaware) (available in Accessible Archives) (1847-1860)

An abolitionist newspaper, not an African American paper. Covered many topics related to slavery and current events.

Library Catalog

Search for subject African American newspapers in DELCAT Discovery.

Guides to African American Newspapers

Pinick, Timothy N. Finding and Using African American Newspapers. Wyandotte, OK: Gregarth Publishing Co., 2008. Not available at the University of Delaware Library.

More Information

ProQuest Historical Newspapers — Black Newspapers collection. Not available at the UD Library.

Provides full text of: Atlanta Daily World (1931–2003); The Baltimore Afro-American (1893–1988); Chicago Defender (1910–1975); Cleveland Call & Post (1934–1991); Los Angeles Sentinel (1934–2005); New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993); The Norfolk Journal and Guide (1921–2003); The Philadelphia Tribune (1912–2001); Pittsburgh Courier (1911–2002).

The Black Press Held By The Library of Congress
Location: Internet

Caution: created in 1991, so the holdings information is not current. Still useful as a list of titles.

About African American Newspapers

Highly Recommended: Research Guides

Research Guides

Web Resources

Primary Resources

Maryland and Delaware, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872, Wilmington, Delaware. Image 6 of 19; citing NARA microfilm publication M1906 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). FamilySearch (

Law and Legislation

Manumission was under the jurisdiction of the Virginia legislature until 1782. During that period governmental action was required for manumission. See article:  Ahrens, Toni, and Paul Finkelman. "Emancipation." In Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Subject Librarian

Rebecca Knight's picture
Rebecca Knight
Associate librarian
Reference and Instructional Services Department
Morris Library, Room 117H

Subjects: U.S. Government Information,
Delaware, census, family studies, RefWorks, APA style, and genealogy.

B.A., History. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1973.
M.S., Library Science. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1981.

1890 Census Fragment for Delaware

African American Experience in World War I

There is a growing number of resources on this topic, both in print and on the web. Recommended search term for library catalogs and for internet searching:

african americans "world war i "

The space after "world war i" eliminates "world war ii" from the search

Why Genealogy?

In all of us there is a hunger marrow deep to know our heritage—to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainment in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.

Alex Haley

Superintendent of Documents Collections

Freedman's Hospital I 1.12:

Freedman's Savings and Trust Company   FST 

African American Military Research