Black Settlers in Indiana - Bibliography

A Note Regarding Resources: Items are listed on this page that enhance work with the topic discussed. Some older items, especially, may include dated practices and ideas that are no longer generally accepted. Resources reflecting current practices are noted whenever possible

Student Reading

Felton, Harold W. Mumbet: The Story Of Elizabeth Freeman. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1970.
This is a true story of how a slave won her freedom in the courts of the state of Massachusetts in 1781. Although the story does not take place in Indiana, it is a very readable story about free blacks. Recommended for intermediate readers.

Winter, Jeanette. Follow The Drinking Gourd. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.
All ages will enjoy this beautifully illustrated work about blacks escaping slavery by traveling north and following the stars.

Advanced Reading

Crenshaw, Gwendolyn J. “Bury Me in a Free Land”: The Abolitionist Movement in Indiana, 1816-1865. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1986.
This is an excellent source for information concerning the abolitionist movement in Indiana. The work is balanced and readable. Chapters include: the colonization movement, underground railroad, relevant slave laws and the Emancipation Proclamation. This well-annotated work is suitable for secondary and adult readers. Also see Of Special Interest on this page. The full publication appears on the Historical Bureau Web site.

Hamilton County Interim Report. Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory. Ann C. Davis, Survey Coordinator. Indianapolis: Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana and Indiana Department of Natural Resources, 1992.
This interim report is one of many produced by Historic Landmarks, which has surveyed approximately two thirds of the state. These interim reports locate historic sites and structures geographically and provide historic context. Available at state headquarters of Historic Landmarks, 317-639-4534.

Thornbrough, Emma Lou. Since Emancipation: A Short History of Indiana Negroes, 1863-1963. Indiana Division American Negro Emancipation Centennial Authority, [1963].
This excellent 98 page book is available from the Indiana Historical Bureau and is suitable for secondary and adult readers. Thornbrough presents some background for the abolitionist movement.

Thornbrough, Emma Lou. The Negro in Indiana: A Study of a Minority. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1957.
Thornbrough is one of the leading experts in Indiana black history. An excellent general source for the period up to 1900. Suitable for secondary and adult readers.

Vincent, Stephen A. “African-Americans in the Rural Midwest: The Origins and Evolution of Beech and Roberts Settlements, ca. 1760-1900.” Ph.D. diss., Brown University, 1991.
This dissertation traces the growth of the Roberts family and its property holdings, from North Carolina to Indiana, and provides information on legal, civil, and economic conditions. It is an important addition to the history of blacks in Indiana.

Of Special Interest

The following exhibits concerning black Hoosier history may be borrowed at no cost (return shipping required) from the Indiana Humanities Council, 317-638-1500. Each exhibit includes written materials.

“Bury Me in a Free Land “: The Abolitionist Movement in Indiana, 1816-1865 . An exhibit that illustrates the conflict over blacks and slavery, defines the options considered, and shows the results of decisions made in Indiana through the end of the Civil War.

This Far By Faith: Black Hoosier Heritage. A photographic exhibit including over 50 photographs of events, people, and places of importance in Indiana history. A booklet by Emma Lou Thornbrough accompanies the exhibit.

The Indiana Historical Society has an extensive collection of black history resources. Black History News & Notes is published quarterly by the Society and contains a wealth of information on blacks in Indiana. Special thanks to Wilma Gibbs, editor and program archivist, for her assistance and cooperation.

The Roberts Settlement Collection, located in the Indiana Division of the Indiana State Library, contains photocopies of papers, deeds, letters, and other papers of the Roberts family in North Carolina and Indiana. The original documents are located in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

County histories and special local publications may contain a wealth of relevant information. There are too many works to list here, but seek help from libraries and historical organizations regarding specific local resources, including specialized collections or museums.

Black Genealogy Resources
Linder, Bill R. Black Genealogy: Basic Steps to Research. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, Technical Leaflet 135, issued as part of History News, Vol. 36, no. 2 (February 1981).

The following citations are from Black History News & Notes: Harris, William O. “Black Ancestral Research in the Indiana State Library.” May 1985; “Researching Your Family History.” November 1992; Robbins, Coy D. “Digging for Black Roots in Indiana.” August 1981; Scott, Jean Sampson. “The Hurdles of Afro-American Genealogical Research.” May 1985.

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Black Settlers in Indiana