Black Patriots Project

Co-Directors: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Louis Wilson

The Black Patriots Project was established to identify persons of color who served the Continental cause in the American Revolution. The project’s beginnings were rooted in the discovery of Professor Gates’s fourth greatgrandfather who served for four years in the 1st Virginia Regiment of Light Dragoons and received a pension for his service. With research largely conducted by genealogist Jane Ailes, the former co-director of the project, the goal of the Black Patriots Project was to verify service and complexion of Patriots from each of the thirteen colonies using primarily original records such as pension and bounty land application files, muster and pay rolls, lists of troops, court records, and legislative records, documents which often revealed fascinating details about the service experience as well as life before and after the war. has realized a goal of the project by publishing an online database containing summaries of the information about each of more than 5,000 Patriots, with the goal of sparking further research. Funding for this project has been provided by David Roux, Richard Gilder and the Gilder Lehrman Foundation, Joseph Dooley and the Sons of the American Revolution, the Hutchins Center, and the Inkwell Foundation.