Please note: This list of materials relating to African-American records is by no means definitive. Record description has been ongoing since 1918, and the subject headings have changed over time due to social and professional standards. Researchers interested in the African-American experience in Georgia needs to be aware of and look for the terms of “Colored” and/or “Negro.”
However, as with any record in an archive, the first consideration of accessing the material is by provenance, that is, by the agency or person creating the document. Therefore, there is often material available for reference which is not specifically labeled or segregated by race that may help your research.
U.S. Bureau of the Census: Population Schedules, 1870-1940 and Slave Schedules, 1850 and 1860. Available on Ancestry.com. On these separate slave schedules, the name of each slave owner appears with the number of slaves owned, and number of slaves manumitted (if any). Under the slave owner’s name, a line for each slave shows age, complexion, sex, and whether or not deaf-mute, blind, insane, or idiot. Names of slaves were not entered. Available for all Georgia counties.
Reconstruction Registration Oath Books, 1867 (RG 1-1-107): Lists name, date of registration, and county of residence. Also available on microfilm. (Georgia Archives Microfilm #296/14-75; 297/1-8)
Reconstruction Returns of Voters, 1867 (RG 1-1-108): Lists voter’s number; date of registry; name; number and page in Oath Book; race; time of residence in state, county and precinct within a year; nativity by state or county; naturalization (if any); and remarks (if any). Also available on microfilm. (Georgia Archives Microfilm #297/9-31)
Department of Archives and History (RG 4) File II Counties, Subjects, and Names (RG 4-2-46) Alphabetically arranged within each section. Under subjects, there are subject headings such as “Negroes”, “Reconstruction”, “Ku Klux Klan”, and “Tunis Campbell–Black Legislator.” These records contain both secondary and primary material.
Apprenticeship/Indenture Registers, 1800-1930: These records primarily document freedmen, but also document whites. Available for 34 counties: Baldwin, Campbell, Carroll, Chatham, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clay, Clinch, Coweta, Dooly, Glascock, Haralson, Jackson, Laurens, Liberty, Lincoln, Madison, McDuffie, Meriwether, Mitchell, Monroe, Morgan, Oglethorpe, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Sumter, Taliaferro, Terrell, Thomas, Washington, Webster, Whitfield, and Wilkes.
County Records Ordinary/Superior Court Records. [Please note: Many of these records are found in either the Ordinary (Probate) Court or the Superior Court, depending on the county.]
Other County Records: Some marriage records, tax records, and local county voting lists were sometimes separated by race, but in many cases the records are integrated. Consult the county record listing to determine which records are available.
Free Persons of Color Registers, 1780-1865: Registers usually include name, age, occupation (sometimes), property, and white sponsor. Available for 21 counties: Appling, Baldwin, Camden, Chatham, Clarke, Columbia, Elbert, Emanuel, Hancock, Jefferson, Jones, Liberty, Lincoln, Lumpkin, Morgan, Pulaski, Richmond, Screven, Taliaferro, Thomas, Warren, and Wilkes.
Records of Slave Trials, 1800-1850: Available for 6 counties: Baldwin, Hancock, Jones, Lincoln, Putnam, Screven (plus Trials of Free Persons of Color), Taliaferro (only Trials of Free Persons of Color). There may be other trial records integrated in the regular Superior Court minutes.
Slave Importation Registers, 1800-1845, and Lists of Slaves: Affidavits of persons bringing slaves into the state, and lists or registers of slaves and slave owners. Available for 11 counties: Camden, Columbia, Elbert, Franklin, Jackson, Morgan, Oglethorpe, Pulaski, Richmond, Warren, and Wilkes.
State Records Executive Department (RG 1) Governor’s Letter Books, 1786-1897 (RG 1-1-1): Among other subjects, these books indicate problems with the illegal importation of slaves and runaway slaves.
Governor’s Subject Files, 1781-1993 (RG 1-1-5): Chronological. Later material has a variety of subject headings. [Example: In Lester Maddox’s files, there are such subject headings as “Augusta Riot, 1967-70”, “Black Panthers” and “School Desegregation”.]
Department of Education (RG 12) Department of Negro Education, 1911-ca. 1966 (RG 12-6) Georgia Department of Defense.
Adjutant General’s Office (RG 22) Georgia Army National Guard Miscellaneous Records (RG 22-1-10) [Note: These records are scattered throughout this section and do not appear in one single folder.] National Guard Riot Duty, 1900-1945 [Examples: Augusta Riot, 1912; Carrollton Riot, 1901; Racial Disturbance Plans, 1944-1945; Riot Duty, 1943; Statesboro Riot, 1904] Colored Militia Companies, ca. 1870s-1900s
General Assembly (RG 37) Summary Committee Reports (RG 37-8-35) [Example: Report of the American Negro Study Committee, 1970] U. S. Government.
Works Progress Administration Records (RG 44). Most notable in this collection are the WPA surveys of cemeteries, church records, county records, various publications, manuscript collections and the surveys of other states.
U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (RG 105): Georgia Archives only has those microfilm publications which pertain to Georgia records.
Federal Records U.S. Adjutant General’s Office (RG 94): The Negro in the Military Service of the United States, 1639-1886. M858. 5 Rolls. (Georgia Archives Microfilm #231/1-5) This microfilm publication reproduces the seven volumes (eight bound parts) of records compiled for publication by the Colored Troops Division of the Adjutant General’s Office.
U.S. Comptroller of the Currency (RG 101): The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company. Georgia Archives only has those microfilm publications which pertain to Georgia records.
U.S. Department of the Interior (RG 48): African Slave Trade and Negro Colonization, Records of, 1854-1872. M160. 10 Rolls. (Georgia Archives Microfilm #231/6-15) This microfilm publication reproduces three bound volumes and some unbound records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior relating to the suppression of the slave trade and the colonization of recaptured and free blacks.
U.S. Department of the Navy (RG 45): Correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy Relating to African Colonization, 1819-1844. M205. 2 Rolls. (Georgia Archives Microfilm #231/16-17) This microfilm publication reproduces six volumes of correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy relating to African colonization, January 5, 1819-May 29, 1844. Copies of a few documents of later date (August 18, 1856-September 8, 1858) are included.
U.S. Judge Advocate General – Army (RG 153): Records Relating to the Army Career of Henry Ossian Flipper, 1873-1882. T1027. 1 Roll (Georgia Archives Microfilm #159/60) This microfilm publication reproduces records relating to the Army career of Henry Ossian Flipper, born to slave parents in Thomasville, Georgia. He was the first black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. Manuscripts / Private Papers These records include private, business, and school records. These collections are indexed by main entry, by geographic location, by subject, by chronological dates, and by the type of forms used (such as diaries, ledgers, etc.). Some collections are available in original format, while others are available solely on microfilm.
Some examples of manuscripts Georgia Archives has collected:
Black Studies Papers, 1773-1886, ac 00-165: Numerous Georgia counties, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The documents in this collection were abstracted from materials in the Governmental Records Section of the Archives, where the originals are stored under various Record Group headings. An unpublished inventory is available. Edmondson Family Farm Records, 1868-1883, ac 83-012: Mrs. Mary (Polly) Edmondson’s negro account book (1874-1882), listing a large number of African-American sharecroppers who also appear in the 1880 census.
Integration: The Right Wing Response Collection, 1956-1964, ac 68-187: Material dealing with states’ rights, integration, segregation, politics, communism, and racism from the viewpoint of the political right wing. Lewis High and Ballard Normal Schools.
Grand Reunion Records, ca. 1908-1945, 1979-1980. (Georgia Archives Microfilm #252/12-13): This is a private school for blacks operated by the American Missionary Association and the Congregational Church started shortly after the Civil War. This collection includes records primarily created through the 1980 Grand Reunion (student biographical information and reunion publications), but also includes some records created during the students’ school days. A descriptive inventory preceeds the collection on microfilm.
Wilkinson Family Papers, 1821-1887, ac 68-080: Family papers of the Wilkinson’s include slave records, Civil War letters, education records, business papers, and land records. Slave papers contain a notice from the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the education material includes African-American school attendance records.
Other Non-Governmental Material Newspapers: There are a variety of newspapers available, arranged by city of publication, county of publication, and title of the newspaper. Some examples of newspapers available are Voice of the People, 1901-1904, a newspaper published in Atlanta by Bishop Henry McNeal Turner as the monthly organ of the Colored National Emigration Association (Georgia Archives Microfilm #60/22); and The Athens Blade, 1879-1880, which published religious and social news about blacks in Athens and some surrounding counties. (Georgia Archives Microfilm #91/72)
Cemeteries and Churches: The Archives has a variety of church records available in original format and on microfilm. These collections are available by denomination, by geographic location, and under the subject heading “Afro-Americans–Churches & Synagogues”. The researcher should keep in mind that many churches in Georgia had both white and black members, and in some cases, slaves and/or freedmen were not allowed to have a separate church body. Church minutes usually list members, and often indicate race and legal status (free or slave).
City Directories: Available mainly for Atlanta (1853-1990), but a few are available for other cities in Georgia. In these directories, there are alphabetical and geographic listings of residents, with the race of the individual noted. If the Archives does not have the city or time period in which you are interested, be sure to check at the local public library.
The Archives has books and periodicals on a wide range of subjects in Georgia History. Search our book catalog (GIL).