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Cherokee Freedmen in Indian Territory

The Wallace Roll of Cherokee Freedmen in Indian Territory was created following disputes among the Cherokees regarding the citizenship of many ex-slaves (freedmen) within the Cherokee Tribe.  Because of this, the ability to establish their status was important and so a series of investigations were conducted by John W. Wallace on behalf of the United States Government from 1889-1890.  

Wallace’s Investigations would be the genesis of what we know as the two most important rolls to African-Native Genealogists, the aptly named Wallace Roll and the subsequent Kern-Clifton Roll.  The Roll was a schedule of names of Cherokee freedmen noted by the Special Agent to have been entitled to share with the per capita distribution of money appropriated to the tribe.  Because of discrepancies, many rolls had additional supplements.  One of the most important is the Kern-Clifton Roll of 1896.  This roll was created to fill in omissions made by the Wallace Roll. Genealogists not finding their Cherokee ancestor in the Wallace Roll are advised to search the Kern-Clifton Roll.  Be careful, some names appear more than once and also in different places.

The University of Texas at El Paso

Starting in March of 2002, students at the University of Arizona at Tucson took on a research initiative that would enlarge the scope of materials available to archaeologists.  The research focuses around connections between the Native American and African American Communities during the periods of the Indian Wars from 1867-1891.   

Coordinating partners include the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and Universities such as The Lamar Center of Yale and Howard and Haskell University resources.  


The goal being:

" create an opportunity for Black and Indian students to discuss and research their mutual histories as fully participating and acknowledged members of the American experience through their respective universities."

The project's participants believe that such an effort would enable Indian and Black students to interview the descendants of Buffalo Soldiers and Indian Warriors, collect family stories, share memories and explore oral traditions.  The project's potential for sparking intercultural communication and dialogue between black and Indian communities in the American West, makes this project in particular, very, very exciting.  


Harvard University

The WEB Dubois’ Institute of African American Research is the nation’s oldest research center dedicated to the study of the history, culture and social institutions of African Americans.  One of the world’s leading research repositories it continues to contribute to the global conversation as well as to matters that are of great academic and socio-political importance.

Whaling Masters - Works Project Administration Project

The whaling industry employed large numbers of African Americans.  Whaling, at that time, required unusually large crews and the work was physically demanding and dirty. Often financially unrewarding, by the 1840s, black sailors would constitute about one-sixth of the industry's labor force as sailors, blacksmiths, shipbuilders, officers, and owners.

More than 3,000 African Americans served on New Bedford Whalers between 1803 and 1860.  

The Whaling Museum of New Bedford, Massachusetts tells their story. Whaling Masters, a Works Project Administration program, lists all ship captains engaged in the whaling industry from 1731 to 1925.  It provides you with additional sources as well as with information regarding the men and their vessels.  If you have an African American ancestor who was a whaler and worked in New Bedford their names would likely be recorded here. 


This data includes:

  • Shipping Reports

  • Newspaper Announcements

  • Logbooks

  • Journals

  • Individual Diaries

  • Articles of Agreement for Privateers

  • Letters of Marque


These documents contain information like the seamen’s salary, share of prize money, age, place of birth, ship master, the owner of the vessel, and destination.  


The Slave Narrative Collection


During the Great Depression the government employed writers and researchers to interview and document the stories of many former slaves.  A pioneering program, the WPA - Federal Writer's Project would honor the memory of Americans through interviews in seventeen states from 1936 to 1938.  The Slave Narrative Collection was gathered from this project.  Each interview details the life story of a former slave and their own impressions of the American Slave System.  Those surviving were asked to give their stories on their experiences and to share what it was like to live in the time of slavery.  Some of the stories were first person accounts others were the memories of the children of slaves.  The Works Project Administration's Slave Narrative Collection tells the story of the souls who would endure America's most brutal system.


Online Library

Worldcat is the world’s largest network of library content and services and is dedicated to providing access to the resources of libraries on the web.  Researchers can search for items they used to get at a library online.  For example, researchers can find article citations, authoritative research materials, photos of local and historical significance and digital versions of rare items, all in Worldcat.  Worldcat Libraries serve a diverse amount of communities in several countries.  Its resources are also available in several different languages.  


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