304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

Work Hours
Monday to Friday: 7AM - 7PM
Weekend: 10AM - 5PM

Natchez. On the Hill, from the old fort. Drawn by James O'Tooley.

Natchez. Under the Hill.


Published Primary Records Relating to Free Blacks in Natchez

Fitzpatrick, John. The Merchant of Manchac: The Letterbooks of John Fitzpatrick, 1768–1790. Edited by Margaret Fisher Dalrymple. Baton Rouge: Louisiana                  State University Press, 1978.

Gould, Virginia Meacham. Chained to the Rock of Adversity: To Be Free, Black, & Female in the Old South. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.

Hayden, William. Narrative of William Hayden, Containing a Faithful Account of  His Travels for a Number of Years, Whilst a Slave, in the South, Written by                    Himself. Cincinnati: William Hayden, 1846.

Johnson, William. William Johnson’s Natchez: The Ante-Bellum Diary of a Free Negro. Edited by William Ransom Hogan and Edwin Adams Davis. Baton Rouge:               Louisiana State University Press, 1951.

Littlefield, Daniel F. The Life of Okah Tubbee. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988.

Natchez Court Records 1767–1805. Edited by May Wilson McBee. The May Wilson McBee Collection. Ann Arbor, Michigan : Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1953.

Secondary Sources

 Relating to Free Blacks in Natchez

Alford, Terry L. Prince among Slaves: The True Story of an African Prince Sold into Slavery in the American South. 30th anniversary ed. Oxford: Oxford                                   University Press, 2007.

———. “Some Manumissions Recorded in the Adams County Deed Books in Chancery Clerk’s Office, Natchez, Mississippi, 1795–1835,” Journal of  Mississippi                       History 33 (February 1971): 39–50.

Andrews, William L. “William Johnson’s Diary: The Text and the Man Behind It,” Southern Quarterly 43, No. 2 (Winter 2006): 18-34.

Berlin, Ira. “Southern Free People of Color in the Age of William Johnson,” Southern Quarterly 43, No. 2 (Winter 2006): 9-17.

Broussard, Joyce. “Stepping Lively in Place: The Free Black Women of Antebellum Natchez.” In Mississippi   Women: Their Histories, Their Lives, vol. 2, edited                        by Elizabeth Anne Payne, Martha H. Swain, and Marjorie Julian Spruill, 23–38. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010.

———. Stepping Lively in Place: The Not-Married, Free Women of Civil War-Era Natchez, Mississippi. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2016.

Buckner, Timothy R.  The Barber of Natchez Reconsidered: William Johnson and Black Masculinity in the Antebellum South. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2023.

Clark, Emily. “Felicite Girodeau (1791-1860): Racial and Religious Identity in Antebellum Natchez” in Swain, Martha H., Elizabeth Anne Payne, and Marjorie                         Julian Spruill, eds. Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their  Lives. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2003.

Davis, Edwin Adams, and William Ransom Hogan. The Barber of Natchez. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1954.

Davis, Ronald L. F. The Black Experience in Natchez, 1720-1880. Denver: National Park Service, 1999.

Hudson, Angela Pulley. Real Native Genius: How an Ex-slave and a White Mormon Became Famous Indians. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,                           2015.

Inglis, G. Douglas. “Searching for Free People of Color in Colonial Natchez,” Southern Quarterly 43, no. 2 (Winter 2006): 97–112.

Ribianszky, Nik. “‘She Appeared to be Mistress of Her Own Actions, Free from the Control of Anyone:’” Property Holding Free Women of Color in Natchez,                              Mississippi, 1779-1865,” The Journal of Mississippi History LXVII, No. 3 (Fall 2005): 217-245.

_____________. “‘Tell Them that My Dayly Thoughts are with Them as Though I was Amidst Them All’: Friendship among the Enslaved and Free People of                           Color in Natchez, Mississippi, 1779-1870,” Journal of Social History 50, No. 4 (June 2017): 701-719.

Sullivan, Lester. “A History of the William T. Johnson and Family Memorial Papers,” Southern Quarterly 43, No. 2 (Winter 2006): 113-136.

Sydnor, Charles. “The Free Negro in Mississippi Before the Civil War,” American Historical Review 32 (1927): 769–88.

Welch, Kimberly M. Black Litigants in the Antebellum American South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018.

Relating to Free Blacks Elsewhere:

Adams, Catherine and Elizabeth H. Pleck. Love of Freedom: Black Women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Alexander, Adele Logan. Ambiguous Lives: Free Women of Color in Rural Georgia,1789-1879. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1991.

Berlin, Ira. Slaves without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South. New York: Vintage Books, 1971.

Bethel, Elizabeth Rauh. The Roots of African-American Identity: Memory and History in Free Antebellum Communities. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.

Bogger, Tommy L. Free Blacks in Norfolk, Virginia, 1790-1860: The Darker Side of Freedom. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997.

Bolster, W. Jeffrey. Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Bracey, John H., August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, eds. Free Blacks in America, 1800-1860. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. Co., 1971.

Brana-Shute, Rosemary and Randy J. Sparks, eds. Paths to Freedom: Manumission in the Atlantic World. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press,                          2009.

Brown, Letitia Woods. Free Negroes in the District of Columbia, 1790-1846. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Buchanan, Thomas C. Black Life on the Mississippi: Slaves, Free Blacks, and the Western Steamboat World. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,                          2004.

Burton, Orville Vernon.  In My Father’s House Are Many Mansions: Family and Community in Edgefield, South Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North                             Carolina Press, 1995.

Clamorgan, Cyprian. The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis, ed. Julie Winch. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999.

Clark, Emily. Masterless Mistresses: The New Orleans Ursulines and the Development of a New World Society, 1727-1834. Chapel Hill: University of North                            Carolina Press, 2007.

__________. The Strange History of the American Quadroon: Free Women of  Color in the Revolutionary Atlantic World. Chapel Hill: University of North                          Carolina Press, 2013.

Cottrol, Robert. The Afro-Yankees: Providence’s Black Community in the Ante-Bellum Era. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982.

Curry, Leonard. The Free Black in Urban America, 1800-1850. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

de la Fuente, Alejandro, and Ariela Gross. Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana. Cambridge: Cambridge                    University Press, 2020.

Dunbar, Erica Armstrong. A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

Ely, Melvin Patrick. Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from 1790s through the Civil War. New York: Knopf: Distributed by                          Random House, 2004.

Fiske, David. Solomon Northup’s Kindred: The Kidnapping of Free Citizens before the Civil War. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2016.

Follett, Richard. The Sugar Masters: Planters and Slaves in Louisiana’s Cane World. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2005.

Franklin, John Hope. The Free Negro in North Carolina, 1790-1860.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1943.

Frazier, E. Franklin. The Free Negro Family: A Study of Family Origins before the Civil War. New York, NY: Arno, 1968, c1932.

Gaspar, David Barry and Darlene Clark Hine, eds. Beyond Bondage: Free Women of Color in the Americas. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

Gehman, Mary. The Free People of Color of New Orleans: An Introduction. New Orleans: Margaret Media, 1994.

Grant, John Wess. The Limitations of Free Black Communities and Post-Colonial Nationalism: A Comparative History of the Richmond, Virginia and  Monrovia,                 Liberia Black Communities, 1817–1870. East Lansing: Michigan State University, 2006.

Hanger, Kimberly. Bounded Lives, Bounded Places: Free Black Society in Colonial New Orleans, 1769-1803. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

Harris, Leslie M. In the Shadow of Slavery: African-Americans in New York City, 1626-1863. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Heinegg, Paul. Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina from the Colonial Period to about 1820. Baltimore: Clearfield, 2001.

Higgins, Billy D. A Stranger and a Sojourner: Peter Caulder, Free Black Frontiersman in Antebellum Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2004.

Hodges, Graham Russell. Slavery and Freedom in the Rural North: African Americans in Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1665-1865. Madison: Madison House,                      1997.

Horton, James Oliver and Lois Horton. Black Bostonians: Family Life and Community Struggle in the Ante-Bellum North. Rev. ed., New York, NY: Holmes &                      Meier, 1999.

Horton, James Oliver. Free People of Color: Inside the African American Community. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993.

Horton, James Oliver. In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, And Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860. New York, NY: Oxford University Press,                     1998.

Howington, Arthur F. What Sayeth the Law? The Treatment of Slaves and Free Blacks In the State and Local Courts of Tennessee. New York: Garland                                   Publishing, Inc., 1986.

Hunter, Tera W. Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017

Ingersoll, Thomas N. Mammon and Manon in Early New Orleans: The First Slave   Society in the Deep South, 1718-1819. Knoxville: University of Tennessee                            Press, 1999.

Jackson, Luther P. Free Negro Labor and Property Holding in Virginia, 1830- 1860. New York, NY: Athenaeum, 1969, c1942.

Johnson, Franklin. The Development of State Legislation Concerning The Free Negro. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979, c1919.

Johnson, Jessica Marie. Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020.

Johnson, Michael P. and James L. Roark. Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1984.

________________________________.  No Chariot Let Down: Charleston’s Free People of Color On the Eve of the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of                         North Carolina Press,1984.

Johnson, Whittington B. Black Savannah 1788-1864. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1996.

Kein, Sybil. Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000.

Kendrick, Stephen and Paul Kendrick. Sarah’s Long Walk: the Free Blacks of  Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America. Boston: Beacon                        Press, 2004.

Kennington, Kelly M. In the Shadow of Dred Scott: St. Louis Freedom Suits and the Legal Culture of Slavery in Antebellum America. Athens: University of                            Georgia Press, 2017

King, Wilma. The Essence of Liberty: Free Black Women During the Slave Era. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006.

Koger, Larry. Black Slaveholders: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina,1790-1860. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, 1985.

Lebsock, Suzanne. The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784-1860.  New York: Norton, 1984.

Leslie, Kent Anderson. Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege: Amanda America Dickson. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995.

Litwack, Leon. North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1961.

Maris-Wolf, Ted. Family Bonds: Free Blacks and Re-Enslavement Law in Antebellum Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

Melish, Joanne Pope. Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998.

Mills, Gary B. The Forgotten People: Cane River’s Creoles of Color.  Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1977.

Millward, Jessica. Finding Charity’s Folk: Enslaved and Free Black Women in Maryland. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2015.

Milteer, Warren E., Jr. Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2021.

__________.  North Carolina’s Free People of Color, 1715-1885. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2020.

Morgan, Lynda J. Emancipation in Virginia’s Tobacco Belt, 1850-1870. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1992.

Morrow, Diane Batts. Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time: The Oblate Sisters of Providence, 1828-1860. Chapel Hill: The University of North                                 Carolina Press, 2002.

Myers, Amrita Chakrabarti. Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina                              Press, 2011.

Nash, Gary B. Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia’s Black Community, 1720-1840. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.

Nathans, Sydney. To Free a Family: The Journey of Mary Walker. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Phillips, Christopher. Freedom’s Port: the African American Community of Baltimore,1790-1860.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.

Powers, Bernard E., Jr. Black Charlestonians: A Social History, 1822-1885. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 1994.

Pryor, Elizabeth Stordeur. Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship before the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016

Rael, Patrick. Black Identity and Black Protest in the Antebellum North. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Schafer, Daniel L. Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.

Schafer, Judith Kelleher. Becoming Free, Remaining Free: Manumission and Enslavement in New Orleans, 1846-1862. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University,                       2003.

Schweninger, Loren. Appealing for Liberty: Freedom Suits in the South. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.

———.  Black Property Owners in the South, 1790-1915.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

Shaw, Lacy, ed. Not a Slave!: Free People of Color in Antebellum America, 1790-1860. New York: American Heritage Custom Publishing Group, 1995.

Smith, Dale Edwyna. The Slaves of Liberty: Freedom in Amite County, Mississippi,1820-1868. New York: Garland Pub., 1999.

Sterkx, H.E. The Free Negro in Ante-Bellum Louisiana.  Cranbury: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1972.

Stevenson, Brenda E.  Life in Black & White: Family and Community in the Slave South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Sumler-Edmond, Janice L. The Secret Trust of Aspasia Cruvellier Mirault: The Life and Trials of a Free Woman of Color in Antebellum Georgia. Fayetteville:                         The University of Arkansas Press, 2008.

Sweat, Edward F. Economic Status of Free Blacks in Antebellum Georgia. Atlanta, GA: Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy, Clark College, 1974.

Tate, Gayle T. Unknown Tongues: Black Women’s Political Activism in the Antebellum Era, 1830-1860. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2003.

Thompson, Shirley Elizabeth. Exiles at Home: The Struggle to Become American in Creole New Orleans. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.

Thornbrough, Emma L. The Negro in Indiana before 1900: A Study of a Minority. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993, c1957.

Vincent, Stephen. Southern Seed, Northern Soil: African-American Farm Communities in the Midwest, 1765-1900. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.

Warner, Lee H. Free Men in an Age of Servitude: Three Generations of a Black Family. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992.

West, Emily. Family or Freedom: People of Color in the Antebellum South. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2012.

Wharton, Vernon Lane. The Negro in Mississippi: 1865-1890.  New York: Harper & Row, 1965.

Wheeler, Peter, Chains and Freedom: Or, the Life and Adventures of Peter Wheeler, a Colored Man yet Living, a Slave in Chains, a Sailor on the Deep, and a                                Sinner at the Cross. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2009

White, Shane. Staging Freedom in Black New York, 1820-1840. Bundoora, Victoria, Canada:   La Trobe University, 2008.

White, Shane. Stories of Freedom in Black New York. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Whitman, T. Stephen. The Price of Freedom: Slavery and Freedom in Baltimore and Early National Maryland. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1997.

Wikramamayake, Marina. A World of Shadow: The Free Blacks in Antebellum South Carolina. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1973.

Wilson, Carol. Freedom at Risk: The Kidnapping of Free Blacks in America: 1780-1865. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1994 (Paperback edition,                             2009).

Wilson, Carol.  The Two Lives of Sally Miller: A Case of Mistaken Identity in Antebellum New Orleans. Rutgers University Press, 2007.

Winch, Julie. Between Slavery and Freedom: Free People of Color in America from Settlement to the Civil War. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014.

Wolf, Eva Sheppard. Race and Liberty in the New Nation: Emancipation in Virginia from the Revolution to Nat Turner’s Rebellion. Baton Rouge: Louisiana                                University Press, 2006.

Wong, Edie L. Neither Fugitive nor Free: Atlantic Slavery, Freedom Suits, and the Legal Culture of Travel. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

Woodson, Carter G.  Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the United States in 1830; Together With Absentee Ownership of Slaves in the United States in 1830.                                   Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, 1924.



Enslaved: People of the Historical Slave Trade: link

Freedom on the Move: link

Race & Slavery Petitions Project: link

Free People of Color in Louisiana, Revealing an Unknown Past: Link

Free Blacks Database: New Orleans, 1840-1860: link

Beacons of Freedom: Slave Refugees in North America, 1800-1860: link

Legacy of Slavery in Maryland: link

The Geography of Slavery in Virginia: Runaway Slaves: link

Digital Library on American Slavery: link

Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery:  link

Explore or reconstruct the lives of individuals who were enslaved, owned slaves, or participated in the historical trade.

Freedom on the Move

Created to control the movement of enslaved people, runaway ads ultimately preserved the details of individual lives–their personality, appearance, and life story.

Race & Slavery Petitions Project

The Project offers a searchable database of detailed personal information about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color. 

Free People of Color in Louisiana, Revealing an Unknown Past

The digital resources created by the project will support new scholarship that explores and illuminates the complex history of free people of color and their significance in the ongoing story of race relations in the United States. 

Free Blacks Database: New Orleans, 1840-1860

The “Free Blacks” dataset was created from The Mayor’s Register of Free Blacks in the City of New Orleans from 1840 to 1864.

Beacons of Freedom: Slave Refugees in North America, 1800-1860

This project applies a social-historical approach to examine and contrast various groups of African-American slave refugees that sought freedom within North America in the period of “second slavery” (roughly between 1800-1860). 

Runaway Slave Ads, Baltimore County, Maryland, 1842-1863

Runaway Slave Ads cover the period from 1842 to 1863 and primarily advertise slaves that ran away from the Baltimore County, Maryland area. 

The Geography of Slavery in Virginia: Runaway Slaves

The Geography of Slavery in Virginia is a digital collection of advertisements for runaway and captured slaves and servants in 18th- and 19th-century Virginia newspapers. 

North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements, 1750-1865

The North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements project provides online access to all known runaway slave advertisements (more than 5000 items) published in North Carolina newspapers from 1751 to 1865. 

Runaway Slaves in Britain: Bondage, Freedom and Race in the Eighteenth Century

The Runaway Slaves in Eighteenth-Century Britain project has created a searchable database of well over eight hundred newspaper advertisements placed by masters and owners seeking the capture and return of enslaved and bound people who had escaped.

Legacies of British Slavery

The Centre’s major contribution to date has been its pioneering database on British slave-ownership. This database has been the foundation for a new understanding of the extent of slavery’s impact on the development of modern Britain.