Ethnic Groups of Georgia

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This entry was originally written by the Johni Cerny and Robert S. Davis for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Georgia Family History Research series.
History of Georgia
Georgia Vital Records
Census Records for Georgia
Background Sources for Georgia
Georgia Maps
Georgia Land Records
Georgia Probate Records
Georgia Court Records
Georgia Tax Records
Georgia Cemetery Records
Georgia Church Records
Georgia Military Records
Georgia Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Georgia Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Georgia Immigration
Ethnic Groups of Georgia
Georgia County Resources
Map of Georgia

Native American

The majority of Georgia’s Native American population consisted of Cherokees and Creeks, both of whom were removed from the area to the west onto land that would become the Indian and Oklahoma territories before Oklahoma statehood. Some remaining Creeks removed themselves to land in Alabama. While the history of Georgia’s native population differs from that of North Carolina, the records in which they are documented are similar. See the Native American section under North Carolina for a complete discussion of available records and their whereabouts. Early federal records of Cherokees are more extensive for Georgia than any other eastern state. These records are in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The Georgia Archives has indexed unpublished typescripts of state records concerning the Creeks and Cherokees, including information on their white relations.

See Robert S. Davis Jr., A Guide to Native American (Indian) Research Sources at the Georgia Department of Archives and History (Jasper, Ga.: the author, 1985).

African American

The Georgia Archives has lists of free persons of color, marriages, slave lists, imported slave lists, apprenticeship bonds, trial dockets, lists of slave owners, cemetery records, church records, bills of sale, deeds transferring slaves, plantation records, and other miscellaneous records. Not every Georgia county created or preserved each type of record listed above. In fact, the number of local records attesting to a specific slave is minuscule when compared to those available for free persons. Many such sources are described in Davis and Brooke, Georgia Research, 84-86 (see Background Sources for Georgia).

In 1940 the Federal Writers’ Project produced Drums and Shadows: Surviving Studies Among the Georgia Coastal Negroes (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1973), which covers the social history of a specific group of African Americans in Georgia’s history. For statewide information on narratives of former slaves, see Howard E. Potts, A Comprehensive Name Index for the American Slave (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997).

The National Archives has federal census schedules, military records, Freedmen’s Bureau, and related records (see pages 14-15). The National Archives will soon have available on microfilm records of the post Civil War Georgia offices of the Freedman’s Bureau. The FHL has some federal records pertaining to former slaves and sells a CD-ROM of the extensive personal information on depositors in the Freedman’s bank, which had offices in Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah. Each of the guidebooks noted in Background Sources discusses federal records as they pertain to African American research.