Professor Henry Louis Gates Seeks to Identify Blacks Who Served in the Continental Army

Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. has embarked on a new project to identify black soldiers who fought in George Washington’s Army during the Revolutionary War and their descendants. Gates believes that up to 10 percent of all troops in the Continental Army were African Americans. Yet there are only 30 blacks among the 27,000 members of the Sons of the American Revolution. There are 30 blacks among the 165,000 members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The research project will examine pension applications filed by Revolutionary War veterans. These records will be cross-referenced with Census Bureau records that typically contain data on race.

Professor Gates was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution this summer after he discovered he had a relative who fought in the War of Independence.