Historically Black Communities of Sandy Spring

For more than 300 years the Sandy Spring area has been home to generations of African and African American families. Black men, women, and children came enslaved with the first white settlers. They hewed frontier plantations out of ancient woods. They found freedom and became landowners themselves; others were forced to wait until after Emancipation. They helped drive the local economies and build communities.

On these pages will appear the stories of more than fifteen historically black communities built in the Sandy Spring area in the 19th and early 20th century.


By 1900 over 1,000 Black residents lived in the area – a number far exceeding the white population. Geographical segregation pushed Black residents to the fringes of white settlements. But they formed their own communities, separate but complete with schools, churches, stores, meeting halls – communities that matured to self-sufficiency.

This is an evolving research project, with updates regularly made.  Community participation is welcome, to share memories, photos, oral histories, and so on.  If you would like to get involved, please contact us.

Please take a look at our other available maps: Extant Black History Sites, Free Black Residents in the 1800s, and Black Union Soldiers From Sandy Spring.

About the map: In 1878, George M. Hopkins first published his “Atlas of Fifteen Miles Around Washington,” created to meet the demands for a map of Montgomery County that would show in considerable detail the election districts, roads, houses, drainage, and other features of interest. Engineers conducted the survey of the area by the use of buggy- or wheelbarrow-odometers, marking miles, and noting structures along the way. In so doing they created a map of above-average accuracy and a tremendous resource that offers insights into the appearance of the area in the 1870s.
Historically Black Communities of Sandy Spring has been made possible in part funding from the organizations listed below and by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

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