Virginia Dare, being baptized in this image, was the first English child born in the "New World" of the Americas. Less than three years later, Virginia and the rest of the settlement on Roanoke Island (on the Outer Banks of what is now North Carolina) disappeared without a trace.
Illustration by Henry Holt, courtesy Library of Congress

Download this file

  • Audience versions of this page: Family

    On August 18, 1587, Virginia Dare was born on Roanoke Island, part of the Outer Banks of what is today North Carolina. Virginia Dare was the first English child born in North America, and was part of the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke, whose complete disappearance is still a mystery.
     
    Roanoke Island was one of the first attempted English settlements in the “New World” of the Americas. (Jamestown, Virginia, established years after Roanoke, would succeed in being the first permanent English settlement.) Soon after Virginia Dare’s birth, a group led by her grandfather, Roanoke Colony Governor John White, left the colony to collect supplies in England. 
     
    White and the supply ship returned three years later, on Virginia’s birthday (August 18, 1590). He found the settlement gone entirely. There was no evidence of a violent raid or abduction by Native Americans, and no evidence of where or when the settlers moved. The only clue was the word “Croatan” carved into a tree trunk. Archaeologists and anthropologists still debate what happened to the more than 100 settlers of the “Lost Colony.” Many think that they joined one of the local Iroquois communities.
     
    In North Carolina and throughout the United States, Virginia Dare has become a symbol of youthful hope and innocence—as well as, sometimes, a racist symbol of the European conquest of the Americas.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abduct Verb

    to kidnap or illegally take a person away.

    anthropologist Noun

    person who studies cultures and characteristics of communities and civilizations.

    archaeologist Noun

    person who studies artifacts and lifestyles of ancient cultures.

    attempt Verb

    to try or make an effort.

    colony Noun

    people and land separated by distance or culture from the government that controls them.

    conquest Noun

    victory.

    debate Verb

    to argue or disagree in a formal setting.

    disappear Verb

    to vanish or leave without a trace.

    entire Adjective

    total.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    evidence Noun

    data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

    festival Noun

    day or other period of time set to celebrate or commemorate an event, usually with a series of parties, ceremonies, or observances.

    historian Noun

    person who studies events and ideas of the past.

    Iroquois Noun

    people and cultures united as a confederacy in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. Also called the Six Nations, for members of the confederacy: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora.

    mystery Noun

    unknown or secret thing.

    Native American Noun

    person whose ancestors were native inhabitants of North or South America. Native American usually does not include Eskimo or Hawaiian people.

    New World Noun

    the Western Hemisphere, made up of the Americas and their islands.

    Outer Banks Noun

    barrier islands off the coast of the U.S. state of North Carolina.

    parade Noun

    procession of performers and entertainers.

    permanent Adjective

    constant or lasting forever.

    racist Adjective

    community or government policy of denying certain rights to people based on their ancestry, usually signified by skin color.

    raid Noun

    to stage a sudden, violent attack, usually for robbery.

    settlement Noun

    community or village.

    supply Noun

    amount of a product that is available to consumers.

    symbol Noun

    something used to represent something else.

    violent Noun

    strong, destructive force.