For new and seasoned researchers both, I have put together what I consider to be a fundamental core list of books and resources absolutely essential to understanding the free people of color in colonial and post-colonial America. The books are shown below and have been added as a permanent page on the blog.
Please note that each of these is written from the individual perspective of each author, and I’m not endorsing one over any other. I don’t always agree with any of these authors. However, as a body of work, they provide researchers with the fundamental core set of understanding of the people, the cultural forces at work, and the situations that influenced the making of “mixed” America. By the time we find our ancestors with surnames in the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s, they had been influenced by European colonization, slavery and assimilation pressure for decades to hundreds of years. These books impart an understanding of how these situations came to be, why, the results and how to work with what we have. These books help make sense of, and in some cases, dispel, a great number of internet myths, especially relating to Native American and African-American mixed ancestry including “tri-racial” isolate groups and various exotic ancestry myths.
Most of these books are available and currently in print. Otherwise, utilize your local library, interlibrary loan and/or the used book marketplace. www.bookfinder.com
I can’t say this strongly enough – these books are essential for serious researchers.
- The Birth of Black America: The First African-Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestown by Tim Hawshaw
- www.africanamericans.com – Paul Heinegg’s site and his accompanying book, Free African-Americans of North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina from the Colonial Period to about 1820, Vol 1 and 2 (current edition)
- Indian Slavery in Colonial America by Alan Gallay
- Mixed Blood Indians, Racial Construction in the Early South by Theda Perdue (2003) University of Georgia Press
- American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History since 1492 by Russell Thornton
- Living Indian Histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora People in North Carolina by Gerald Sider (2003). University of North Carolina Press
- Waccamaw Legacy: Contemporary Indians Fight for Survival by Patricia Barker Lerch (2004), University of Alabama Press
- Native Americans in the Carolina Borderlands: A Critical Ethnography by Michael Spivey (2000), Carolina Press
- Pocahontas’s People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries by Helen Roundtree
Of course, there are many books available. I have selected these as a core group because they are well written and researched, relatively unbiased, highly educational in nature and will prepare you to understand and evaluate other books, documents and opinions expressed elsewhere.