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Georgia's Gullah-Geechee Heritage: INTRODUCTION

The Gullah-Geechee are descendants of enslaved West African people who worked on coastal plantations from North Carolina to northern Florida. Many historians believe the Gullah-Geechee culture is a link to West African traditions and languages.


"I am here to represent Sapelo Island, a little hammock on the Georgia Coast. It's a dying form of life we have here. In some ways I relish the new way while at the same time I feel such a heavy loss for the vanishing of the old ways." -- Cornelia Walker Bailey

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Search Terms


African Americans

Bilali, Salih

Barrier Islands

Beaufort, S.C.

Brer Rabbit

Bunce Island (also "Bance")

Butler, Pierce

Buzzard Lope

Campbell, Emory

Campbell, Tunis

Carolina Gold Rice

Charleston, S.C.

Clyburn, James

Creel, Margaret Washington


Daise, Ronald

Darien, Ga.

Dash, Julie

Daufuskie Island, S.C.

Dawley, Amelia


Ebo Landing (also Ibo)

Freedmen's Bureau

Frogmore, S.C.

Fula (see Fulbe, Peul)



Geraty, Virginia Mixson

Georgia Sea Island Singers

Georgia Writer's Project

Goodwine, Marquetta (also Queen Quet)

Grosvenor, Vertamae



Gullah-Geechee Nation

Gullah Jack

Hall, Shad

Hair, P.E.H.

Harris, Joel Chandler

Harris Neck, Ga.

Hogg Hummock

Hog Hammock

Hurston, Zora Neale


James Island, S.C.

Johnson, Ronnister

Jones, Bessie

Kemble, Fanny

Kingsley, Anna (also Anta)

Kingsley, Zephaniah


Laurens, Henry

Lomax, Alan

McIntosh County Shouters


Opala, Joe

Parrish, Lydia

Penn Center (also Penn School)

Port Royal Experiment

Quimby, Frankie Sullivan

Rice Coast

Ring Shout (also "Saut")

St. Helena Island, S.C.

St. Simons Island, Ga.

Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society Inc. (SICARS)

Sapelo Island, Ga. (also Sapeloe, Zappala)

Saltwater Geechee

Sea Island Cotton

Sea Islands

Seminole Indians

Sierra Leone

Shout (also "saut")


Spalding, Thomas

Special Field Order No. 15

Sweetgrass Baskets


Taylor, Susie King

Turner, Lorenzo Dow

Uncle Remus

Vesey, Denmark

West Africa

Windward Coast


The Gullah-Geechee are the descendants of West African and Central African people who were brought to this country to do slave labor on coastal plantations stretching from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida. In the Carolinas, these people are known as Gullahs; in Georgia and Florida, they are called Geechees.

Because of their isolation on barrier islands and in mainland coastal communities, these enslaved people were able to retain many of their African customs, including religious beliefs and traditions, music, foodways, dance movements, and remnants of their native African languages. They were able to pass all these things down to later generations.

The Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor was established by the U.S. Congress in 2006. It includes 79 barrier islands, and communities as far as 30 miles inland on the mainland. The Corridor is managed by the National Park Service.

In Georgia, the Gullah-Geechee culture spans from the Savannah area down to St. Marys and surrounding communities. It includes difficult-to-access islands such as Sapelo and Cumberland, and many popular tourist and resort areas such as St. Simons and Jekyll islands.






Gullah-Geechee Links

Geechee and Gullah Culture: New Georgia Encyclopedia

Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

Gullah/Geechee Nation

Gullah Heritage: Charleston County Public Library

National Park Service: Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor


Photograph Credits: All black-and-white photographs are by Muriel and Malcolm Bell. Color images are by Michele Nicole Johnson, Sapelo Island, Georgia.

Sapelo Island, Georgia

Sapelo Island, Georgia, is in McIntosh County, and it is the site of the historic Hog Hammock Community. Some historians believe Hog Hammock is one of the last intact island-based Gullah-Geechee communites in America. The island is accessible only by state-run ferry or private boat, and when you arrive on its shores, it's as if you've stepped back in time.

Cornelia Walker Bailey is a native Sapelonian and the author of the book, God, Dr. Buzzard and the Bolito Man. Her book includes some of the island folklore and traditions that survived the Middle Passage and the atrocities of slavey in America. Mrs. Bailey had the opportunity to visit Sierra Leone in West Africa, with other Gullah-Geechee delegates, where they got to see and hear the many connections they share. The story of their journey is told in the documentary Family Across the Sea (see Films in this Research Guide).

Related Guide: Muslims in Early Georgia