Researching African American Land and Farm Owners: A Bibliographic Essay

Debra A. Reid

in Beyond Forty Acres and a Mule

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780813039862
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043777 | DOI:
Researching African American Land and Farm Owners: A Bibliographic Essay

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Color-conscious record keeping generated historical data that can make it easy to identify an individual by race, but other data systematically deemphasized African American achievements, particularly land ownership, thus veritably obliterating black landowning farmers from the historical record. Census enumerators identified black farmers and their production in 1870 and 1880. Researchers can corroborate this data with other local public records such as mortgages, deeds, plat maps, and tax assessments, but these sources do not exist for later decades. Compendia published by the U.S. Census Bureau did not include black farmers by tenure prior to 1900, or between 1930 and 1970, the period coincident with significant land loss by black farmers; nor did the state or national compilations provide detailed information about black landowners. This made less obvious the rapid loss of land that black farmers experienced, it makes statistical comparison impossible, and it leaves researchers little choice but to conduct original research in local records and census manuscripts. Debra Reid'ss bibliographic essay suggests secondary sources to consult for context, and primary sources to mine for evidence of black landowning farmers.

Keywords: secondary sources; bibliographic; census; data; tax assessment; tenure

Chapter.  8515 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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