HomeIII. Research African American History in Virginia

III. Research African American History in Virginia

100 Years of Falls Church [once part of Fairfax County] 

Fairfax County in 1860: A collective biography by Edith M. Sprouse

Guide to the Reston Black Focus records 1960-2005

The Reston Historic Trust and Museum holds a variety of Reston Black Community files

Reston African American History

A series of interviews with a selection of Reston’s African American pioneers was conducted for Reston Community Television’s program entitled “Reston’s African American Legacy”. A book containing a selection of the interviews, Reston's African American Legacy by LaVerne Gill, is available for research in the Museum’s reference library (by appointment). Two of the public programs on this topic can be found on the Reston Museum YouTube channel:

Library of Congress Digital Collections

Library of Congress: Born in Slavery

Library of Virginia: Virginia Untold - The African American Narrative

National Archives Online Black/African American history resources

African American Resources for Virginia

Include enslaved  databases, records, historical information, genealogical sources , history of slave trade,  Freedman’s Bureau Records etc.

Links to Topics  Introduction · African American Research · Record Finder · Search Strategies · Archives and Libraries · Bible Records · Biography · Business Records and Commerce · Cemeteries · Census · Church Records · Court Records · Freedman's Bank · Freedmen's Bureau · Funeral Homes · Genealogy · History · Internet Sources · Land and Property · Military Records · Newspapers · Obituaries · Occupations · Online Records · Oral History · Probate Records · Resources · Slavery and Bondage · Societies · Southern Claims Commission · Taxation · Vital Records · For Further Reading

Repository: https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/African_American_Resource

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the District of Columbia

Summary of Census Returns of Colored People, Fairfax County, Virginia

Status on Jany. 1st, 1863 [Emancipation Day]

No. Slave - 2167
No. Free - 774
Resident - 2878
Non-Resident - 63
Laborers - 2133
Mechanics - 27
Employed by Gov't - 99
Employed by former owner - 163
Not employed - 274
Helped by Gov't - 91
Able to read - 128
Unable to read - 2813
Unable to support themselves -539

Fairfax County History - Local History Subject Files

Fairfax County Black History Resources   

Black History in Fairfax County Public Libraries

City of Fairfax Regional Library Virginia Room

Black Civic Organizations

History of the Fairfax County Branch of the NAACP by E.B. Henderson
Call Number: VRARE 305.896 H

Publication Date: 1965
This booklet describes the growth of the local NAACP branch from 1915, when it was organized in response to a segregation ordinance of the Falls Church Town Council, until the 1960s when racial barriers began to fall.

Black History in Fairfax County

Historic Preservation
Call Number: VREF 975.529 A

Publication Date: 1983 
Sites identified and discussed in this study include Dr. E. B. Henderson, educator, author and activist; location of the house where the Fairfax NAACP was founded; the building that housed the first Black public school in Fairfax; and sites in Gum Springs.

Black Heritage Quilt Squares Identification by Black Women United for Action in Fairfax County
Call Number: VRARE 975.529 B

Publication Date: 1990
This booklet was prepared as a reference to the 25 panels of a quilt based on aspects of Black life in Fairfax under slavery and in freedom.

The Quilt Project: Celebration of the African American Experience YouTube

African American History in Mason District (2 volumes) by Naomi S. Zeavin
Call Number: VREF 975.529 A

Publication Date: 2005
This is a compilation of family and community history, citizen recollections, and memorabilia from the Mason District.

"Shades of Gray" : a beginning-- the origins and development of a Black family in Fairfax, Virginia by Hareem Badil-Abish
Call Number: VREF 929.2755 FAIR 2005
Publication Date: 2005
This family history is also a scholarly, highly illuminating narrative of the Black community of Fairfax County. It touches on the communities of Merrifield, Williamstown, The Pines, Vienna, Fairfax, Falls Church and Bailey’s Crossroads.

Gum Springs: The Triumph of a Black Community by John Terry Chase
Call Number: VREF 975.529 C
Publication Date: 1990
This work tells how Gum Springs was transformed into a strong, Black community with remarkable community institutions.

History of Gum Springs by David Corbin
Call Number: VRARE 975.529 C
Publication Date: 1980
This is a bound photocopy of an unpublished manuscript that may contain information not included in the above volumes about the Gum Springs community.

Of Land & Labor : Gunston Hall Plantation Life in the 18th Century by M. Lauren Bisbee
Call Number: VREF 975.529 B
Publication Date: 1994
This well illustrated visitors booklet is devoted in large part to the lives of enslaved people on the Gunston Hall plantation.

Unequal Access : The Desegregation of Public Libraries in Northern Virginia by Chris Barbuschak and Suzanne LaPierre
Call Number: VREF 975.5291 Barbusc 2021
Publication Date: 2021
This report investigates the history of the desegregation of Northern Virginia's public libraries including Fairfax County Public Library. It is digitally available here.

Reston's African American Legacy. Volume 1 by Rev. LaVerne McCain Gill
Call Number: VREF 975.529 Gill 2017
Publication Date: 2017
This booklet profiles 39 notable Black residents who lived in Reston, Virginia. 

Free Negroes in Northern Virginia : An Investigation of the Growth and Status of Free Negroes in the Counties of Alexandria, Fairfax and Loudoun, 1770-1860 by Donald M. Sweig
Call Number: VRARE 975.529 S 1975
Publication Year: 1975
A history paper that examines the increasing population of Free Blacks in Northern Virginia from the 18th and 19th centuries and what their experiences were.

Northern Virginia Slavery : A Statistical and Demographic Investigation : Dissertation by Donald Sweig 
Call Number: VRARE 975.529 S

Publication Year: 1982
Sweig's detailed dissertation investigates slave families from the middle of the 18th century to the Civil War.

Segregation, Suburbanization and the James Lee Community : Falls Church, Virginia by Ann Korzeniewski
Call Number: VREF 975.529 K 1991
Publication Year: 1991
A research paper that examines the history and development of the James Lee community, one of several historically Black districts in Fairfax County dating from the end of the Civil War.

Black Settlement in Forestville, Vienna and Lewinsville after the Civil War by Andrew Ting
Call Number: VREF 975.529 T
Publication Year: 1982
This research paper examines Black settlement after the Civil War in Forestville, Lewinsville, and Vienna in Fairfax County. The author conducted oral history interviews with descendants of some of the original inhabitants of these settlements as well as with local historians.

Flexibility and Profit in the Slave Hiring System in Fairfax County, Virginia, 1830-1860 by Elizabeth Brown Pryor
Call Number: VREF 975.529 P 1980
Publication Year: 1980
This is a draft paper which examines the history of slave hiring in the Fairfax County vicinity.

Searching for Sully's Enslaved : Sully Historic House--Fairfax County, Virginia by Beth Sansbury
Call Number: VREF 975.529 Sansbur 2020

Publication Year: 2020
This book examines the lives of those enslaved at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly.

Freedom Is Not Enough: African Americans In Antebellum Fairfax County by Curtis L. Vaughn
Call Number: VREF 975.529 Vaughn 2015

Publication Year: 2015
A dissertation on the lives of free African Americans during the post-Civil War era in Fairfax County. Available for download here. 

Black Churches

History of Pleasant Grove Methodist Church by Ruby Banks
Call Number: VRARE 287.6 B
This five page manuscript describes the origins of this church and tells its history beginning with the erection of the building in 1896.

Greater Little Zion Baptist Church Celebrates 100 Years
Call Number: VRARE 286.1755 G
Publication Date: 1991
This calendar with accompanying text and photos of ministers and congregants tells the story of this church and its predecessor Little Zion Baptist in Burke which was founded in 1891.

120th Anniversary First Baptist Church : 450 Orchard Street N.W., Vienna, Virginia 22180
Call Number: VRARE 286.1755 O
Publication Date: 1987
This booklet tells the story of the First Baptist Church that was founded after the Civil War through the backing of a Union veteran who settled in the community.

131st Church Anniversary : 1866-1997 : New Mt. Zoar Baptist Church Fairfax, Virginia.
Call Number: VRARE 286.1755 O
Publication Date: 1997
This booklet tells the story of the Mount Zoar Baptist Church whose origins date from about 1866.

Mount Calvary Baptist Church 135th Anniversary by Mount Calvary Baptist Church (Fairfax, Va.)
Call Number: VRARE 286.1755 M
Publication Date: 2005
This booklet was prepared to commemorate the founding of the congregation near the Fairfax County Courthouse in 1870.

Church Ledger, 1926-1942 (photocopy) by Second Baptist Church (Clifton, Va.)
Call Number: VREF 929.3755 FAIR
This is a photocopy of a ledger book of the Second Baptist Church in Clifton and contains details of meetings relating to the governance of the congregation. Much interesting social detail is included in the accounts of the proceedings.

Black Education

A History of Education for Black Students in Fairfax County Prior to 1954 by Evelyn Darnell Russell-Porte
Call Number: VREF 371.829 R 2000 F
Publication Date: 2000
A 315-page dissertation, including tables, which provides a historical account of the educational developments for Black students in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Facts Pertaining to Negro Pupils and Teachers, Fairfax County Schools by Fairfax County School Board
Call Number: VRARE 372.9755 F
Publication Date: 1963
A mimeographed compilation of data on Black students and teachers of Fairfax County prepared in anticipation of requirements to desegregate the schools.

Louise Archer: The Educator and the School by Sylvia B. Taylor
Call Number: VRARE 372.975 T
Publication Date: 1986
This booklet was prepared to commemorate the principal of the Vienna Colored School, renamed in 1950 in her honor.

Drew-Smith Elementary School Reunion: Celebrating A Proud Past
Call Number: VRARE 372.9755 D
Publication Date: 1997
This commemorative booklet pertains to a segregated school of the Gum Springs community built in 1951 that operated until 1965 when Fairfax County Public Schools were desegregated.

Dedication of Drew-Smith Elementary School, Gum Springs, Fairfax County, Virginia
Call Number: VRARE 372.9755 D
Publication Date: 1953
This booklet picturing officers, faculty, and students of the segregated school was prepared for the dedication of Drew-Smith Elementary on April 26, 1953.

The Blood of the Lamb: A Story of the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Children Told Through The Eyes of Former Students by Dennis E Howard, Jr.
Call Number: VRARE 370.9755 H
Publication Date: 2008
In the absence of any other secondary schools available in Northern Virginia during segregation, this school in Prince William County served as a regional school for the surrounding counties with Fairfax County students as the single largest group. This book largely consists of recollections of those who attended the school.

James Lee Elementary School : Text Of A Recorded Interview With Dr. and Mrs. E. B. Henderson Made At Falls Church, Virginia on June 13, 1969 by Edwin Bancroft Henderson
Publication Date: 1969
This item is a transcript of a June 1969 interview with Dr and Mrs. E. B. Henderson about the schooling provided in the area before desegregation.

History in Action – Marah Christian Counseling 
Call Number: VREF 929.3755
Publication Date: 2009
This commemorative booklet dedicated to the founder of a Christian ministry in Vienna includes many family histories and individual biographies of Black residents in the area.

Leslie and Lutie L. Coates House at 3621 Centreville Road in Chantilly, Fairfax County by History Matters
Call Number: VRARE 720.9755 H
Publication Date: 2006
This binder includes documentation prepared for the Coates House in Chantilly before it was razed. The house was constructed circa 1935 in the Dutch Colonial Revival Style for Leslie Coates, a Black soldier and farmer whose family farmed in the area since the 1870s. The Coates family was prominent as landowners in the Black community and in the Chantilly Baptist Church.

Memories of Ravensworth: An Interview With Mr. Douglas Dove by Douglas Dove
Call Number: VRARE 975.529 D 1994
Publication Date: 1994
This is a transcription of an oral interview with a man born in 1911 that grew up on an estate just to the west of present day Prosperity Avenue and Little River Turnpike. The interview includes several references to Black residents in the area.

Molder of Men : Portrait of a “Grand Old Man”, Edwin Bancroft Henderson by James H. M. Henderson and Betty F. Henderson
Publication Date: 1985
Written by his son and daughter-in-law, this biography of Edwin Bancroft Henderson tells of his important role in physical education and as a leading activist in the Falls Church NAACP.

Guide My Feet: A Memoir by Dorothy H. Mann
Call Number: VREF B MANN
Publication Date: 2009
The first pages of this memoir by a Black woman concerns her youth in the Mount Pleasant community of Fairfax County.

Transcript of a Tape Recorded Interview with Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson
Publication Date: 1962
This is a wide-ranging interview about Black life and localities in the early 20th century.

Transcript of a Tape Recorded Interview with Dr. E. B. Henderson by WMAL Radio
Publication Date: 1966
In this wide-ranging interview, Henderson talks about such matters as segregation in public facilities, sports and civil rights, voting, racial discrimination during the Wilson administration, etc.

The Life of Edwin Bancroft Henderson and his Professional Contributions to Physical Education by Leon N. Coursey
Publication Date: 1971
This is a facsimile of a dissertation for a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Ohio State University, emphasizing Henderson’s role as the first male Black teacher of physical education.

Fairfax County Stories, 1607-2007  
Call Number: VREF 975.529 F 2007
Publication Date: 2007
A collection of Fairfax County histories written in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement. Included are stories related to the Black community:

Fairfax County, Virginia A History by Netherton, Sweig, Artemel. Hickin, and Reed 1800- 1840 Black Population in Fairfax County p. 210-218

A Guide to the Photographic Archive of Fairfax County Virginia General Collection c. 1720-2007

University Publications/ Websites

The Forced Migration of Enslaved People 1810- 1860

Gravesites of the Enslaved People in Virginia

Black Lives Next Door

History’s Lessons for Equity in Northern Virginia and the written report Deeply Rooted: History’s Lesson for Equity in Northern Virginia

The Transatlantic Slave Trade Encyclopedia Virginia

Slave Ships Encyclopedia Virginia

The Geography of Slavery in Virginia 

Influential Black Virginians

Remaking Virginia by the Library of Virginia