Online Resources for African American Genealogy

Online Resources
for African American Genealogy
Presented by: Angela Walton-Raji
African American Genealogy Conference
Family History Center
February 7th, 2015 Laurel MD
Before Looking Online: Follow the Basic Rules:
 Conduct the oral history: This critical first step involves frequently speaking
with elders to obtain names, places and dates that will direct the research. Oral
history is collected for each family line, and the data should be recorded and
transcribed so that the information can be consulted frequently.
 Examine the family archives: Many clues to the family history lie within the
home. Photos, old documents, licenses, letters, and more, are only a few of the
family treasures that can point the researcher to the family history.
 Determine the family status: Use US Census Records from 1940 to 1860 to
determine if the family was enslaved or free. If enslaved , the family should be
located in the 1870 US Census and later. If free, the 1860 US Census and earlier.
 Enslaved: Identify the last known slave holder. This process can take a much
longer time, involving studying the local community and finding records such as
tax records, land records, and probate records.
 Free people of color: Continue documentation of family in public records.
Check for manumissions and Free Negro Registers.
 Research the slaveholder’s family history: The history of the slaveholder’s
family can often reveal how slaves were acquired including through inheritance,
marriages, purchase, and also as debt settlements.
 Document the earliest presence in America: If research extends into the
Colonial era, the goal is to find the earliest presence in America and,
subsequently, the first African ancestor.
 Find the Family’s Story of Freedom: Before extensive work on finding the
slave holder’s history—explore the way that freedom came to the family. Did
they live near a Freedmen’s Bureau site? Find out. Was there a contraband camp
in the community? Find out. Did they utilize the Freedman’s Saving’s Bank?
Find out. That is part of the family narrative.
When Using Online Resources Remember to:
 Utilize all vital records: Birth, marriage and death records are basic records
for all genealogy research. Records were kept on black families for most of
the 20th Century, although some rural communities may have had fewer
events recorded. State-level holdings vary in terms of the years in which
reporting was mandatory.
 Incorporate history into the family research: The timeframe in which
ancestors lived must be studied in relation to the laws and statues that
impacted them and their lives. Also, resources particular to a community are
often distinct and should be consulted.
 Remember that Segregation Occurred in the Courthouse: As segregation was
the law for many decades, some local records will be segregated by race,
such as marriage records. One might find “colored marriages” separated
from white marriages.
 Consult separate voter registration lists: Many voter lists from the 19th
Century record black and white voters on distinct lists
a. 20th and 19th Century Resources:
Federal Records (Census and Post Slavery Era)
Subscription sites:,
Free sites:,
b. Reconstruction Era Records
Freedman’s Bureau Records - Family Search
Freedmen's Bureau Records of Field Offices 1865-1872 –
Ancestry records. Limited but growing collection of FB records
Internet Archive: (Search for: Record of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen
and Abandoned Lands)
Mapping the Freedman’s Bureau
A google map guide to finding Freedman’s Bureau locations, and
Freedman’s Bank, Freedmen’s Hospitals &Contraband camps.
c. Oral History
 Library of Congress
 University of Virginia Slave Narratives
 University North Carolina - “Documenting the American South”
d. Societies
 African American Genealogy Group (AAGG)
 Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society (AAHGS)
 Afro-American Genealogical & Historical Society of Chicago (AAGHSC)
 African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC)
 Black Belt African American Genealogical and Historical Society
 Black Genealogy Search Group
 California African American Genealogical Society (CAAGS)
 Indiana African American Genealogy Group
 St. Louis African American History & Genealogy Society
Canada & Caribbean
 African Canadian Heritage Association
 Black Loyalist Heritage Society
 British Columbia Black History
 Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society
 Jamaican Historical Society
 Nevis Historical and Conservation Society
 Ontario Black History Society
Professional Blogs – Written by Professionals to give advice, or inform the public
of trends, technique, genealogy news:
Eastman’s Online Genealogy
African Roots Podcast
Who is Nicka Smith
Personal Blogs – Written by researchers who share their own genealogy successes
and problems:
How Did I Get Here
Roots Revealed
Root Digger
Finding Eliza
Teaching Blogs - Created to illustrate methods and concepts, and to provide
solutions to others conducting research
The Legal Genealogist
USCT Chronicle
High-Definition Genealogy
Society Blogs
African American Genealogy Society of Northern California
Federation of Genealogical Societies