Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina, Sixth Edition [3 volumes]


The Third Edition of Paul Heinegg’s Free African Americans of North Carolina and Virginia was awarded the American Society of Genealogists’ prestigious Donald Lines Jacobus Award for the best work of genealogical scholarship published between 1991 and 1994. This new Sixth Edition is Heinegg’s most ambitious effort yet to reconstruct the history of the free African American communities of Virginia and the Carolinas by looking at the history of their families. It also marks the first new edition since 2001.

Now published in three volumes, and 400 pages longer than the two-volume Fourth Edition, Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina from the Colonial Period to About 1820 consists of detailed genealogies of hundreds of free black families that originated in Virginia and migrated to North and/or South Carolina from the colonial period to about 1820. The families under investigation represent nearly all African Americans who were free during the colonial period in Virginia and North Carolina. Like its immediate predecessor, the Sixth Edition traces the branches of a number of African American families living in South Carolina, where original source materials for this period are much scarcer than in the two states to its north. Researchers will find the names of the more than 13,000 African Americans encompassed by Mr. Heinegg’s genealogies conveniently located in the full-name index at the back of each volume.

Mr. Heinegg’s findings are the outgrowth of 40 years of research in some 1,000 manuscript volumes, including colonial and early national period tax records, colonial parish registers, 1790-1810 census records, wills, deeds, Free Negro Registers, marriage bonds, Revolutionary pension files, newspapers, and more. The author furnishes copious documentation for his findings and an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

A work of extraordinary breadth and detail, Free African Americans is of great importance to social historians as well as genealogists. This edition traces many families back to their 17th- and 18th-century roots (families like those of humanitarian Ralph Bunch, former NAACP president Benjamin Chavis, and tennis stars Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson). Mr. Heinegg shows that most of these families were the descendants of white servant women who had had children by slaves or free African Americans, not the descendants of slave owners. He dispels a number of other myths about the origins and status of free African Americans, such as the “mysterious” origins of the Lumbees, Melungeons, and other such marginal groups, and demonstrates conclusively that many free African American families in colonial North Carolina and Virginia were landowners.

Paul Heinegg

(2001, 2009), 2021, paper, 3 volumes, 578 pp. (vol. 1), 584 pp. (vol. 2), 590 pp. (vol. 3)

ISBN: 9780806359212