Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Janet H. Gritzner


The history of Black land tenure has left its own unique and indelible geographic on St. Helena as evidenced by the Island's distinctive cadastral and settlement patterns. West African slaves, who were brought to this area, sought every available means to acquire property upon their emancipation. For the majority of Islanders, the goal of owning land took years of hard labor to achieve. The sales of property held by the United States government and private investors during Reconstruction provided freedmen with their first opportunities to become landholders. Throughout the tenure of Blacks on St. Helena, land has become increasingly fragmented due the systems of land tenure and inheritance that exist on the Island. In the past, marginal economic circumstances among the Islanders has exacerbated this problem and forced some residents to sell their lands or lose them to delinquent property taxes. In addition, small family farms have all but disappeared from the landscape as fragmented properties have become less profitable to cultivate. Today, St. Helena is surrounded by exclusive resort and retirement developments on adjacent islands. Some Black landowners have sold their property to developers while others have chosen to remain on their land. For the moment, large-scale resort development has not come to the Island, but growth of the nearby island-amenity landscape does not appear to be slowing. The purposes of this study, then, are twofold: 1) to examine the evolution of land tenure on St. Helena Island from 1860 to 1995 from historical and geographic perspectives; 2) to document systems of land tenure in advance of resort development.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Land tenure -- South Carolina -- Saint Helena Island
African Americans -- South Carolina -- Saint Helena Island -- Land tenure -- History




South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright