African American Research

This page provides a link to an index of the Tennessee African American ("Colored") Confederate pension applications. This index contains the following information: (1) applicant’s surname, (2) applicant’s first name, (3) county of residence at the time that he applied, (4) unit in which he served, and (5) pension application number. There is also a link to a page with additional information about this collection.
This web page provides links to a number of useful resources for those researching African American heritage. The materials at the Tennessee State Library and Archives include the following: research guides, bibliographies, exhibits, Tennessee Virtual Archive Collections, Manuscript collections and photographs.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives maintains a diverse collection of resources that relate to African American genealogical research. Although there were free blacks in the state, the majority of Tennessee's African American population were slaves, making them virtually invisible because of the scarcity of documentation in ante-bellum records. The information in this guide is by no means exhaustive. Researchers are urged to confer with librarians and archivists at the Library and Archives for consultation on individual research needs.
This page is an index to records on microfilm. It includes an introduction to the employment rolls and nonpayment rolls of slaves and free black workers involved in the construction of Fort Negley.
William Henry Fort, Jr.’s Fisk University scrapbook comprises part of the Ambrose A. Bennett Family Papers. This scrapbook consists of nineteen pages of images, among these are photographs of various campus buildings, numerous students and significant figures at Fisk, including a photograph of Langston Hughes and a photograph of past Fisk president, Thomas E. Jones. The Tennessee State Library and Archives has chosen to display portions of this scrapbook in order to highlight the contributions of Fisk University, especially the historically significant role that the university played during a time of great social upheaval in the South.
This guide divides the African American materials into six categories: Manuscripts Collections; Microfilm Only Collections; Supreme Court Cases (east & middle Tennessee); Acts of Tennessee 1796-1850; Legislative Petitions 1799-1861; and Bible Records, Church Records, Correspondence, Diaries and Memoirs, Documents, Genealogical Data, and Small Collections.
Interactive map showing refugee camps, USCT recruiting stations, and other sites connected with the African American experience in Tennessee from 1861 to 1865.
For years, the Reconstruction era marked a tumultuous period in American and Tennessee history. Even before the formal process of Reconstruction began following the Civil War, steps were taken to address the rights of freed slaves and the readmission of Confederate states to the Union. The materials in this collection portray a few of the challenges and victories that emerged during Reconstruction. The focus of the images rests primarily on the Reconstruction period and Gilded Age (1876-1910) in Tennessee following the Civil War.
This bibliography of African American resources is divided into three categories: "How to" books and articles; general research guides; and local history and research guides (arranged by county).
Southern School News was published by the Southern Education Reporting Service (SERS) a fact-finding agency established by southern newspaper editors and educators with the aim of providing unbiased information to school administrators, public officials and interested lay citizens on developments in education arising from the U.S. Supreme Court opinion of May 17, 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas.
Online exhibit documenting African American legislators in 19th century Tennessee. The exhibit features biographies, timelines, tools for educators and students, photographs, and an index of bills filed by African American legislators in the Tennessee General Assembly.
During the Civil War, the Provost Marshal was the Union Army officer charged with maintaining order among both soldiers and civilians. The Provost Marshal records microfilmed by the National Archives include many records related to Tennesseans. This Union Provost Marshal Database was created to index those documents that were from provost marshal offices in Tennessee and that relate to Tennesseans during the Civil War. The fully searchable database includes name, location (city or county), year, file number (if provided), and a brief description of the document(s).