Introduction to The Texas Freedom Colonies Project

What are Freedom Colonies?

Jamestown Settlement, Newton County, Annual Homecoming (2015)

From 1865-1930, African Americans accumulated land and founded 557+ historic black settlements or freedom colonies. Since their founding, freedom colony descendants have dispersed, and hundreds of settlements’ status and locations are unknown. Gentrification, cultural erasure, natural disasters, urban renewal, & land dispossession have all contributed to their decline. Freedom colony descendants’ lack of access to technical assistance, ecological and economic vulnerability, and invisibility in public records has quickened the disappearance of these historic Texas communities.

What is the Texas Freedom Colonies Project?

The Texas Freedom Colonies Project puts freedom colonies on the map, on policy agendas, and at the center of Texas history. Our goal is to prevent the erasure, destruction, and decay of cultural properties within settlements in partnership with descendant communities. Cultural properties include home/farmsteads, churches, and schools. The Texas Freedom Colonies Project is an educational, social justice initiative dedicated to preserving the heritage of Texas’ historic African American settlements, and the planners and preservationists that made them possible. We are researchers who map disappearing places and co-create resilience strategies with endangered communities. To support freedom colonies’ community resilience, the Project engages in three core activities

1) Recording and safeguarding stories and materials associated with freedom colonies’
origins & decline
2) Hosting and maintaining an interactive, publicly accessible Atlas & Database of freedom colony locations including GIS layers indicating development and ecological threats
3) Community-Engaged & Applied Research Team; Identifying resources for and co-developing community resilience strategies and policies with freedom colony descendants using the contents of the Atlas and Database 

The Project uses GIS analysis, archival research, and engaged ethnography, including oral histories. Team members create peer-reviewed scholarship, develop project-based learning for students, and provide evidenced-based support to grassroots and public preservation groups and agencies, which along with the Atlas, make freedom colonies more visible to those who can influence their chances of survival.  

Learn More!

Please review the resources below (videos, booklets, map & database) to learn more about Freedom Colonies, descendants, and research.  

Contact us at to request more information about volunteer and partnership opportunities. We will send a form for you to complete and respond in the order forms are received. 

Who Are We? Watch the video below to learn more.


What are Texas Freedom Colonies? 

Where are they? How can we preserve them? 
Read the booklet below to learn more.

How can I search for Freedom Colonies? How do I add my story to the Texas Freedom Colonies Atlas?

  Follow this link to the map and the stories: 

Video tutorials are available here: