Fundamental Research List

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. 

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.

I can’t say this strongly enough – these books are essential for serious researchers.

  1. The Birth of Black America: The First African-Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestown by Tim Hawshaw
  2. – 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)
  3. Indian Slavery in Colonial America by Alan Gallay
  4. Mixed Blood Indians, Racial Construction in the Early South by Theda Perdue (2003)  University of Georgia Press
  5. American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History since 1492 by Russell Thornton
  6. Living Indian Histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora People in North Carolina by Gerald Sider (2003). University of North Carolina Press 
  7. Waccamaw Legacy: Contemporary Indians Fight for Survival by Patricia Barker Lerch (2004), University of Alabama Press
  8. Native Americans in the Carolina Borderlands: A Critical Ethnography by Michael Spivey (2000), Carolina Press
  9. 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. 


17 Responses to Fundamental Research List

  1. I AM INTERESTED IN KNOWING MORE ABOUT THE POCAHONTAS PEOPLE AS A NOW DECEASED, GREAT AUNT,SPOKE OF HER FATHER BEING Indian. WHEN QUESTIONED FURTHER FOR INFORMATION, SHE SAID “YOU KNOW” Pocahontas’s Tribe. She is Now deceased. However my mother and several cousin descendant of other sister & aunts, spoke of the same ancestry. On cousin and her mother are registered N/A. HE IS VERY ELUSIVE AND LIKELY DEAD NOW. My grandmother Eva Ruth, a direct descendant of Willey Hendricks, the aunt who says he was her daddy.
    I have traced the Hendrix line and found at Francis Marion Hendrix, son by Abraham Hendrix who married twice. First to a Native American, who ran away back to her tribe family legend claims land then to an English woman who bore him several other children. The Native American wife had one child from that marriage and his name was Willy Hendrix. His father is buried in South Carolina and I have visited that grave. The grate of my Great or Great grandfather thru Beulah Beatrice Ray, daughter Eva Ruth Hendrix, my Grandmother.
    I certainly would like more information on these peoples my great aunt called Pocahontas People. Oh by the way some one told me Pocahontas meant clown or cut up. Hmmm! Dr.. “Bob” Hendrix/Ray/Barnes

  2. Johnc132 says:

    Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group? Theres lots of people that I believe would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thanks dadgkedkadbd

  3. We have 4 children we adopted that bio fam say ancestors came from Sioux Tribe. Our 1st adopted son (no blood relation to other 3) does since the local reservation had to sign off legally for us to adopt him. Was told he comes from the Sioux Indian’s. That’s all we were told. How do I research his background for his own peace of mind? We integrate his American Indian heritage but want to be able to tell him more so we as a family can embrace his culture the right way. I would greatly appreciate any help & in the end our boy will be able to connect to his roots instead of the “I don’t know & I wish I had more information for you” answers. Thank you so much!

  4. Lisa Elixson says:

    Hello Roberta, I am looking for information/confirmation regarding my Great Great Grandmother Seleka, Celome Cain. My aunt told me that she was an Indian but I have no other information about her heritage. She was born in 1865 in Ritchie County and later married my GG Grandfather John Eli Hart of Doddridge County, WV. Her father was Hiram Cain (death cert. refers to father as John Cain) and her mother was Dorinda Cain also (maiden name Cain) d. of John Cain. Dorinda was a twin both of whom married Hiram Cain and had two sets of children….possibly they were Morman. Dorinda died early in life and it appears acc. to census details that Seleka was lent out as a servant probably in return for her upkeep. I also have two photos of her and my GG Grandfather.
    Lisa Elixson

  5. Pingback: Ethnicity Testing and Results | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  6. John says:

    Hello, are you still working on the Native American project? I am NA on my mothers side but cannot get DNA to prove it but have census reports. Any suggestions. My family is also from Pedlar.

  7. Jerry Flakus says:

    My grandmother, whose name was Mary Catherine Blair, was actually the child of an illicit affair between her mother, White Woman and a man named John Small Bear. Prior to that White Woman had six children with Big Voice Hawk.
    Mary Catherine attended Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania and had the occasion of meeting a white man who became my grandfather, his name was Robert Reginald Fitzmaurice. Their union resulted in the birth of my Mother, Francis Virginia Fitzmaurice. Mary Catherine Small Bear-Blair- Fitzmaurice died when my mother was age 2. Fitzmaurice abandoned my mother, gave her to a white woman who resided in Valentine, NE. As far back as I can discover, my maternal side are all registered Rosebud Sioux (Lakota). I’d like to uncover or discover more information from the Carlisle Indian school archives to see what more can learned about Mary Catherine. Because my mother wasn’t raised in contact with the Rosebud Reservation, etc., she did not know to register me and when she later tried she was told the rules had changed and I couldn’t be registered.

  8. pinkpaisley7 says:

    Hi, I am delighted to have stumbled on to your website!

  9. Victor Sabala says:

    I suspect that my paternal grand parents were either Lipan Apache or Mescalero. My Ancestry DNA reflects 46% Native American from northern Mexico and central and south Texas. What resources do I need to look for. I’ve got a family tree I’ve been working on.

  10. Nathaniel Funderburk says:

    I like to find ancestry background indigenous Indians surname Buchanan and Funderburk from 1790 census

  11. Nathaniel Funderburk says:

    I like to find ancestry background indigenous Indians surname Buchanan and Funderburk from 1790 census.

  12. slaterock1 says:

    my story:
    My grandfather Dr. Arnold R Tolley swore that his great grandmother was an American Indian. He said he had seen a painting of her in his grandmothers house in Fall River Mass. That painting was lost in time. I have never seen it. However, I do know that my 3rd great grandmother was Esther W. Lake (Tolley). She died in Freetown Mass. in 1906. She is buried in North Burial Ground Cemetary in Fall River. I suspect she is a Pocasset Wampanoag Indian.The Mashpee Tribe say they have no record of a Lake or Tolley in the tribe. I have done DNA through Ancestry and Gedcom but as far as I can tell there is no specific reference to American Indian DNA. I have not heard back from the Pocasset yet. I just want to prove my grandfathers connection to the Wampanoag. Where else can I go?
    Thank you
    Arnie Tolley Slater

  13. kelly mckaig says:

    Your link to Paul Heinigg’s site is incorrect. I believe it should be Thought you would like to know.

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