Wilkes County African American Resources

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you know of a site or have resources to donate please contact us. If any links are outdated and not working, please contact us.

Why do we have a separate page for African American genealogy resources?

African American genealogical research is distinct from that of other ethnic backgrounds in the United States. This is because the majority of slaves were unable to read, write, attend school, legally marry, own land, own a business, vote, and participate in many other activities that generated records on which much genealogical research is based. Many families were split up which makes it even harder to piece together African American family histories.

Passed by the Senate on June 8, 1866, and ratified two years later, on July 9, 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to all persons “born or naturalized in the United States,” including formerly enslaved people, and provided all citizens with “equal protection under the laws,” extending the provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states.

The granting of citizenship to slaves in 1868 had an impact on records such as letters, diaries, wills, census records, land deeds, voter registrations, and school records. Now that former slaves were considered citizens, they were to be documented and enumerated as a US citizen.

With that, written documents were typically segregated, just like people were in that era. These records were usually kept in separate files or listed in the back of record books. Finding the location of these records also poses a problem for African American researchers. For instance, the military records of African Americans are indexed separately from all other ethnicities.

Browns Temple Church

African American genealogy and history has not been widely researched at this time. This will change as more people and entities bring documents and their family histories online.

We are grateful to those African American families who have come forward to share photos and family histories with us.

We ask that those who are doing African American research in regard to Wilkes County, NC to please share with us so we can house it in the County Library Genealogy Room. Here it will be catalogued and maintained to share with researchers, present, and future generations who are looking for family that may have originated or lived in Wilkes County.

If you need help with publishing or getting materials to us, please to not hesitate to contact us.

Wilkes County Resources


African Americans in Wilkes County, NC, part 1 – YouTube

African Americans in Wilkes County, NC, part 2 – YouTube

African Amercans in Wilkes County, NC, part 3 – YouTube

African Americans in Wilkes, NC, part 4 – YouTube

African Americans in Wilkes, NC, part 5 – YouTube

Silvia Robinson – Wilkes County Hall of Fame Class of 2022

Dr. Alexander Erwin – Wilkes County Hall of Fame Class of 2023


“Mammy” Judy Barber (digitalnc.org)

Arthur “Tump” Gwyn — 98 y.s. old (digitalnc.org)

Lincoln Height Rosenwald Interview – YouTube

Miss Bessie Harris talks about Black Business in Wilkes [March 6, 1977] (digitalnc.org)

Mrs. Brack Ginton (Elizabeth); Paul Gregory (digitalnc.org)

Mrs. Brack Ginton (Elizabeth); Paul Gregory (digitalnc.org)

Tom Ferguson on Tom “Dooley” Dula and Andy Gold’s Mill and recordings of the Lincoln Heights School Chorus (digitalnc.org)


Cemeteries – Wilkes Genealogical Society, Inc. (wilkesgenealogy.com)

Freedman’s Records for Wilkes

Note: you must have a FamilySearch Account (It’s free).

North Carolina, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records – FamilySearch Historical Records • FamilySearch

Wilkes County, NC Freedmen’s Search Results – • FamilySearch


The Wilkes County School District Reports contain separate sections for African American schools/classrooms and their number of students. It also has the name of the teacher who was most likely African American.

Annual report of the public schools of Wilkes County


Thankful Heritage Museum – This site is run by Effley D. Howell, Sr.. He does a lot of African American genealogy research in the Wilkes County Area.

A History of The Building · Lincoln Heights: The Building Through the Years · Lincoln Heights Rosenwald School

Preserving and Sharing the Story of the Lincoln Heights Rosenwald School · Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections (appstate.edu)

Lincoln Heights Rosenwald School – Clio (theclio.com)

Wilkes County African American Page (ncgenweb.us)

Junaluska Heritage Association

NC African American Resources

*** Using North Carolina Cohabitation Records to research your African American ancestors – YouTube

African American Resources for North Carolina • FamilySearch

African American Genealogy – Genealogy Research at Wilson Special Collections Library – LibGuides at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (unc.edu)

Home – Researching African American Ancestors – LibGuides at State Library of NC

Federal Writers’ Project: Slave Narrative Project, Vol. 11, North Carolina, Part 1, Adams-Hunter | Library of Congress (loc.gov)

Federal Writers’ Project: Slave Narrative Project, Vol. 11, North Carolina, Part 2, Jackson-Yellerday | Library of Congress (loc.gov)

US African American Resources

AfriGeneas ~ Slave Data Collection

Slave Voyages

North American Slave Narratives (unc.edu)

Digital Library on American Slavery (uncg.edu)

United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1850 • FamilySearch

United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1860 • FamilySearch

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938  |  Digital Collections  |  Library of Congress (loc.gov)

Slavery Era Insurance Registry (ca.gov)

Federal Records that Help Identify Former Slaves and Slave Owners (archives.gov)

Freedmen’s Bureau Records | Ancestry®

Mapping The Freedmen’s Bureau | An Interactive Research Guide (mappingthefreedmensbureau.com)

Free African Americans in Colonial North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware

Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery (informationwanted.org)

E Pluribus Unum – Honoring Our Patriots (dar.org)

Documenting the American South homepage (unc.edu)

Virginia Untold Search (exlibrisgroup.com)

Internet Archive: Search Result of “African Americans” and “Genealogy”