15 Free Sites for African American Genealogy

Explore your African American family history and heritage through this collection of free databases, resources and family trees for African-American genealogy.
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AfriGeneas is dedicated to the particular challenges of researching African-American ancestors, and offers support in the form of chat rooms, discussion forms and recommended resources solely focused on African American ancestry, plus a great beginner's guide. If you need some expert guidance to get you started on your African American research, this site is the best place to start. More »

This free resource from hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro includes digitized details about American slaves from thousands of court and legislative petitions filed between 1775 and 1867 in 15 different states. Search by name, search by petition or browse subjects. More »

This all-volunteer research project and Web site sponsored by the Africana Studies department at the University of South Florida works to discover records that document the names of slaves, freedpersons and their descendants, and share them online. More »
Search this free database from the National Park Service for information on the 235,000 USCT (United States Colored Troops) soldiers, regiments (units), battles, and NPS civil war parks. It also includes histories of 180 USTC units/regiments. More »

 This website dedicated to African American genealogy in the historic rice-growing areas of South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida, hosts a wealth of more unique record types including labor contracts, transportation requests, and field reports from the Freedmen's Bureau, and 1868 voter registration records. Additional resources include how-to articles and research guides. More »

Tom Blake has spent many years identifying the largest slaveholders on the 1860 U.S. census, and matching those surnames to African American households listed in the 1870 census (the first census to enumerate the former slaves by name). He estimates that these large slaveholders held 20-30% of the total number of slaves in the United States in 1860. More »
This huge collection of documents, photographs, sound recordings, maps, and other records includes more than a dozen collections specifically related to African American history and culture. An essential starting point for those interested in learning more about their African American heritage. More »
Paul Heinegg shares the entire body of his published work on free African Americans online, as found in his books Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina and Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware, including about 2,000 pages of family histories based on colonial court order and minute books, free Negro registers, marriage bonds, census records, etc. You'll also find hundreds of abstracted tax lists. More »
A project of the University of Virginia, this database of slave narratives includes a sampling of some of the 2,300+ interviews and photos of former slaves taken between 1936 and 1938 with first-hand accounts of their experiences. More »
The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, generally referred to as the Freedman's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865 to supervise all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and newly freed slaves. On this site you can find many reports and documents generated by the Freedman's Bureau, including labor records and marriage records, as well as a comprehensive overview of the Freedman's Bureau history, the Reconstruction Era, labor contracts and other aspects of African American life after Emancipation. More »
Search by surname or explore by state to find people buried in African American cemeteries across the United States. Cemetery transcriptions are contributed by volunteers. More »
The Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture presents information on the thirteen defining migrations that formed and transformed African America, including International Slave Trade, Runaway Journeys, the Domestic Slave Trade, Colonization and Emigration, Haitian Immigration, Caribbean Migration, African Migration and African American migration within the United States. More »

This free website has been around for over a dozen years, and offers a large number of searchable databases and extensive transcriptions of African American records. New historical documents are still added fairly regularly. More »

Genealogist Angela Walton Raji provides guidance and records for researching African citizens of Native American ancestry, with a strong focus on former slaves of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole Nations. More »

This ongoing project of the Illinois State Archives includes approximately 3,400 names found in governmental records involving the servitude and emancipation of Africans and, occasionally, Indians in the French and English eras of colonial Illinois (1722–1790) and African-Americans in the American period of Illinois (1790–1863). These names include servants, slaves, or free persons and masters, witnesses, or related parties from selected governmental records. More »