The Family Research Society of Northeastern North Carolina, Inc. is a repository of genealogical and historical information for Northeastern North Carolina. The Society’s scope includes the counties of Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank and Perquimans. In addition to records, the FRS also has certified genealogists among their members who can help to interpret the information. I highly recommend membership to all researchers in this area.

In early American history laws were quite different than they are today. It is impossible to interpret records outside of the legal context within which they were written. Hening’s Statutes At Large is a collection of all laws of Virginia beginning with the first session of the legislature in 1619. Many of these laws also applied in North Carolina. I recommend this resource to verify the interpretation of records.

Inheritance in Colonial Virginia is another valuable resource. Many individuals died testate (or with a last will and testament) leaving clear instructions on estate distribution; however, many individuals died intestate (or without a will) leaving their estate to be divided according to the laws of succession. Familiarity with these laws is fundamental to the interpretation of records generated following a death and often enables the verification of undocumented relationships.

Learn NC is a site developed by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Education. This site is a digital textbook and it contains a timeline of the history of Colonial North Carolina. The social, economic, and political context of an area can answer many genealogical questions. Learn NC also includes discussion of natural resources and the industries they inspired around North Carolina.

Paul Heinegg’s Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware is an invaluable resource for anyone who descends from free people of color in the mid-Atlantic region. These abstracts include a wide variety of records and enable new researchers to see established family lines. Heinegg’s information is a starting point but all researchers should endeavor to collect original records and build family histories independently.

A common challenge for genealogists is accessing records in distant locations. Many of us are researching ancestors in states and counties far from where we currently live. One way to access records is to order them through interlibrary loan. The FamilySearch Catalog is quite extensive and contains a number of digitized collections in addition to microfilm that can be ordered for a small processing fee.

I also highly recommend building relationships with genealogical societies in each area of interest. For the Ohio section of my research, I have received great support from the Champaign County Public Library and the Logan County Genealogical Society. Volunteers with these groups have been able to access Ohio records that are not on microfilm yet of great importance to these family histories.

Highly Recommended Reading

Between Slavery and Freedom: African Americans in the Great Dismal Swamp 1763-1863A master’s thesis presented by Edward Maris-Wolf to the Department of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary (2002)
The Complications of Liberty: Free People of Color in North Carolina from the Colonial Period through ReconstructionA dissertation submitted by Warren Eugene Milteer, Jr. to the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2013)
Weapemeoc Shores: The Loss of Traditional Maritime Culture Among the WeapemeocA dissertation submitted by Whitney R. Petrey to the faculty at East Carolina University (2014)
PASQUOTANK COUNTY NC PERSONS OF COLOR IN COURT MINUTES 1738-1868“Persons of color, whether Negro, Mulatto or Indian, are often difficult to trace in early records. Robert Britton has scoured the minutes from Pasquotank County North Carolina Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions from the earliest minutes in 1738 until the court structure changed in North Carolina in 1868.” (2018 Reprint)
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