The Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island

Over the summer, my main project has been to research and interpret the Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island. This settlement, which lasted officially from 1863 to 1867, has been the park’s main focus in recent years. My specific task this summer is to research more about the lives of two people who played an indispensable role in the formation and development of the Freedmen’s Colony. The first person is Thomas R. Robinson, a formerly enslaved man who escaped Roanoke Island to help Major General Ambrose E. Burnside conduct his attack in the Battle of Roanoke Island, which lasted from February 7 to February 8, 1862.

I have not yet decided who my second focus will be, but we have made significant progress in compiling and discovering new information on Thomas Robinson. The final goal of these investigations is to create detailed biographies to publish on the NPS website, as there is very little public information on our website regarding the Freedmen’s Colony on Roanoke Island. During my time in the park, I have also used my programs to spotlight the formerly enslaved people who lived in this settlement, providing a story more focused on the individuals rather than the colony as a whole. My main goal is to bring exposure to the people who were part of the Freedmen’s Colony, whether they lived in it or participated in its inception.

I’m happy to continue working at Fort Raleigh as an Interpretive Writer, but I also enjoy giving out programs and helping create social media posts because it gives me a break from my research and allows me to interact with people and engage them with what we have to offer in the park.


1 Comment
  • Gerardo Javariz
    Posted at 14:38h, 12 July

    Congratulations on your excellent work researching and interpreting the Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island. Your detailed focus on the lives of key individuals like Thomas R. Robinson and your efforts to highlight the stories of formerly enslaved people are commendable. The dedication you’ve shown in compiling new information and creating detailed biographies is truly impressive. Your work not only enriches the historical understanding of the colony but also brings much-needed visibility to its residents. Keep up the outstanding work at Fort Raleigh! ENHORABUENA Abu y Aya.

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