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African American History : African American Genealogy

In 2019, Cabell County Public Library and Marshall University Libraries Special Collections sponsored an African American Genealogy Workshop. Genealogy is very popular but the intricacies of African American genealogy require different resources. Read the Herald Dispatch article about this exciting workshop here.


Click on each tab in the box below to find genealogy resources:


Websites about genealogy and the nuances of conducting African American genealogical research:

African American History Month This Web portal is a collaborative project of the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society AAHGS was founded in 1977 in Washington, DC by a small group of historians and genealogists who felt a need to share resources and methodology for pursuing historical and genealogical research. For more than 35 years, our members have worked together to trace the historical ties that bind us one to another, mold the present, and shape the future.

The Ancestor Hunt: Best Five Sites for Free Newspapers  ​The Ancestor Hunt includes links to newspapers and obituaries as well as a blog sharing lessons that the author has discovered through his years of genealogical research. This link provides information on the best free sites for online newspaper research.

BlackPast.org is an online reference guide to African American History. This page links to African American and General genealogy websites that may be useful for those seeking to research personal or family history.

The Conversation: I Dig through Archives to Unearth Hidden Stories from African-American History  This article discusses the difficulties of performing African American genealogical searching.

Family Search: African American Genealogy - Family Search: African American Genealogy is a Wiki providing extensive resources for doing African American genealogy. The Wiki provides links to: finding aids, research guides, articles, and repositories, among others.

Family Tree Magazine: African American Genealogy Toolkit A compiled lift of African American- specific genealogy resources for performing your genealogy research.

Find My Past: Persi The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) is your gateway to discovering amazing information about your family history. PERSI connects you to the material and journal records from the databases of over 8,000 genealogy and history societies from all over the world. See what you've been missing!

The Freedmen's Bureau Online The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, often referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865. The Bureau supervised all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen, including issuing rations, clothing and medicine. The Bureau also assumed custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory. The bureau records were created or maintained by bureau headquarters, the assistant commissioners and the state superintendents of education and included personnel records and a variety of standard reports concerning bureau programs and conditions in the states.

Genealogy Search - Genealogy Search provides a variety of tools for performing online genealogy research, including: search engines, forms, and books.

The Legal Genealogist - The Legal Genealogist  is Judy Russell, a genealogist with a law degree. Her purpose here at The Legal Genealogist is, in part, to help folks understand the often arcane and even impenetrable legal concepts and terminology that are so very important to those of us studying family history. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a political science minor from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and a law degree from Rutgers School of Law-Newark.

The Newberry In this podcast, Genealogist Tony Burroughs breaks down the procedures for finding African American ancestors and discusses why a unique set of research tools is necessary for doing African American genealogy.

PBS The History Detectives Special Investigation: African American Genealogy The PBS History Detectives Special Investigation: African American Genealogy provides users with tools that can assist them with the unique challenges that African Americans will face when tracing their family history.

Techwalla: How to Find Old Newspaper Articles Online for Free - This article discusses the ways that yuo can find old newspaper articles online for free.

Cabell County Public Library Resources (Books)

Beasley, D. (1995). Family Pride : The Complete Guide To Tracing African-American Genealogy. 929.1089960 B

Rose, J.M. (2003)  Black Genesis : A Resource Book For African-American Genealogy. 929.1 R

West Virginia Black History Conference (1992). 975.40496073 W V. 1

Woodtor, D.P. (1999). Finding A Place Called Home : A Guide To African-American Genealogy And Historical Identity. 929.1 WOO


Marshall University Resources (Books)

Blockson, C.L., & Fry, R. (1991). Black genealogy Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press.

Jarrett, P. P., & Winston, H. C. (2000). African-american genealogy: A research guide

Rose, J., & Eichholz, A. (1978). Black genesis. Detroit: Gale Research Co.


Marshall University Resources (Articles)

Dula, A., Royal, C., Secundy, M. G., & Miles, S. (2003). The ethical and social implications of exploring african american genealogies. Developing World Bioethics, 3(2), 133-141. doi:10.1046/j.1471-8731.2003.00069.x

Edge, T. (2017). “Who do you think you are?”: Examining the African‐American experience in slavery and freedom through family history television. The Journal of American Culture, 40(4), 341-354. doi:10.1111/jacc.12806

Husband, L. (1992). African-american genealogy research in the 1990s. Illinois Libraries, 74(5), 403.

Rosenwaike, I., Hill, M. E., Preston, S. H., & Elo, I. T. (1998). Linking death certificates to early census records: The african american matched records sample. Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, 31(2), 65-74. doi:10.1080/01615449809601189

Shipman, K. E. (2013). Genealogy. African American Review, 46(2/3), 501-501.

Woodtor, D. P. (1993). African-american genealogy: A personal search for the past. American Visions, 8(6), 20.