Adopt A County

There are many freedom colonies that have not yet been located, or that need more research before we can determine if they were in fact freedom colonies. For example, several of the freedom colonies listed in the book Freedom Colonies have never been verified, while many others require on the ground research or oral history interviews to identify them. To find more information about these communities and to deepen our knowledge of all freedom colonies, The Texas Freedom Colonies Project established the Adopt-A-County Volunteer Program. The goal of the program is to add all missing freedom colony stories and locations to the Atlas by asking descendants and the public to help us find data about settlements by county. Check the Atlas Dashboard tab and it will show you which settlements need to be located or need more research.

Volunteers “adopt” a county to research and are grouped into regions to cultivate a community of practice dedicated to locating freedom colonies and information about the freedom colonies (i.e. plat maps, obituaries, photos, documents, homecoming programs, etc.) An intranet is available by region for volunteers to store, organize, and share research materials. We have over 60 talented volunteers, and the program is growing! There are two roles one can play in the program–participant researcher (formerly called county captain) or public researcher(formerly called a crew member). We are authorized to conduct participatory research by UVA. Our IRB# is 5460.

Interested in volunteering?

Want to learn more about the program or ask questions about your county? Email


The research guide provides links to areas online where you can help verify whether or not that church, school or cemetery was associated with a freedom colony. The clickable links lead to the resource and also explains the types of information the resource can help you find or confirm:

1) Was this freedom colony name recorded anywhere as a community or place

2) Is the place name associated with African Americans or their institutions?

3) Was there a verifiable location of a church, school, homestead co-named and co-located and record of an associated community.

Remember, we just need you to share your data! Our team regularly reviews entries to determine whether they are associated with individual structures or actual freedom colonies. Still not sure what a freedom colony is or if you have identified one? Read our definition page, here.

Click here to download a copy with clickable links.


Participant Researcher (Captain)


  • Be the liaison between group members and the research team
  • Be the first line of contact for the members to ask questions
  • Organize virtual and/or in-person activities amongst the group volunteers
  • Distribute, collect and process surveys for their respective county


  • You must be at least 18 years old to participate.

  • Complete consent form
  • Training or 2+ years of preexisting involvement with The TXFC Project is required for PARTICIPANT RESEARCHERS.

Compensation/Support (NEW!)

You may be compensated for travel and expenses (gift cards) during the duration of the study if you are a participant researcher. Prior approval from the lead researcher or PI is required. Read and complete the form to learn more about how you may qualify.

Public Researcher (Crew)


  • Research, scan, and collect documents and other artifacts related to documenting the histories of freedom colonies
  • Locate sources (persons) with knowledge about the freedom colony of focus
  • Distribute and collect surveys around the freedom colony communities within the county adopted and to other sources
  • Record freedom colony oral histories


Need Support?

Visit our YouTube Channel and view our Adopt a County and Atlas tutorials.