The Roanoke Island Freedmens Colony

UNC Press


Welcome to the site dedicated to the Roanoke Island Freedmenís Colony. During the Civil War, Union-occupied Roanoke Island, which lies between the North Carolina mainland and the barrier islands known as the Outer Banks, became home to thousands of former slaves. Initially these refugees settled near the Union headquarters, creating a community that included churches and a school. In the spring of 1863, this camp evolved into a government-sanctioned colony. Major General John G. Foster, Commander of the 18th Army Corps, ordered Horace James, a Congregational minister from New England who was serving as a chaplain in the Union army, to establish a colony of former slaves on the island. Although the Roanoke Island freedmenís colony was an experiment of national significance, few people are aware of its history. This site presents an introduction to the colony and the colonial experiment that was conducted there. It also features some primary sources, maps, and projects for students

In addition to this main page, the site is divided into eight major sections, which may be entered by clicking the buttons on the top or left of your screen. The History section provides background on the Roanoke Island freedmenís colony. The Documents section provides some primary source material, including personal letters and published documents. The Maps section provides a map of Roanoke Island during the Civil War and a map showing the probable location of the colony. The Technology section presents materials related to the role of technology in the colonial experiment. The Projects section features projects for high school and college students. The Descendants section provides two lists of colonistsí names and announcements of current interest to descendants. The Preview section includes the Table of Contents and Chapter 1 of the only comprehensive published history of the colony, Patricia C. Clickís Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmenís Colony, 1862-1867. Finally, the Links section provides connections to other sources related to the Roanoke Island freedmenís colony. You may return to the main page at any time by clicking on the title bar. Please visit the site often to check for additions and updates.

This site was created by Patricia C. Click, associate professor of Science, Technology, and Society in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. Clickís interest in the Roanoke Island freedmenís colony was initially ignited by a summer project conducted in 1981 for the town of Manteo, North Carolina. After a ten-year period when she worked on other projects, including The Spirit of the Times: Amusements in Nineteenth-Century Baltimore, Norfolk, and Richmond (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989), in 1991 she resumed her study of the Roanoke Island freedmenís colony. That research led to the publication of Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmenís Colony, 1862-1867 (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2001). The technical advisor for the site is Gregory V. Joiner, Systems and Information Engineering graduate of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia.

Copyright © 2001 Patricia C. Click
Site maintained by Gregory V. Joiner.