10+ Resources for African-American Genealogy Research
First, I want to share with you how this Parents' Day holiday has inspired me to think deeply about not only being a descendant, but living as a mindful ancestor.
Then, I'll share the 10+ resources that have been helping me in my research.
Join me as I ponder as a descendant-ancestor...
When you consider who your parents are, you are in essence looking at the entirety of your family lineage up to the point of their birth. Ponder that.
The same is true about you and I when we parent.
But if this is a tender place for you because you haven't birthed biological children, please know that the scope of your lineage extends way beyond familial ancestry. There are many ways you leave a legacy. Leesa Hall speaks in-depth about this.
Please pause and read her heart for encouragement and insight to get new perspective of approaching the matter of ancestry.
Reflections of A Descendant and Ancestor - The Joy and Jarring Places
I am daring to go back as far as possible to embody both the joy and the jarring places of being an offspring of people who know persistence and persecution.
I am reflecting on what it means for the descendant in me to meet the ancestor in me. And so I lament, rise, rejoice, and write. It's about leaving adolescence and going into adulthood, while engaging in child-like curiosity.
"If we carry intergenerational trauma (and we do), then we also carry intergenerational wisdom. It's in our genes and in our DNA." - Kazu Haga
Pain and pleasure travel through family lines. And I believe each generation has a sacred role and responsibility to heal and celebrate God's purpose through their family's presence on the earth.
Ancestral writing is keeping me emotionally honest and aligned. Woven into my research and scribbling experience is a full range of emotions that together sing like a chorus.
The tenors, sopranos, bass, and baritones of my responses connect me deeply to a suffering and risen Savior who knew pain didn't equal abandonment and triumph didn't equal status.
Pain and triumph are experiences on the journey. To prefer triumph over pain is to misunderstand the deep work of being human.
To become upset because I'm upset is to not give myself permission to let the whole chorus of my life sing. To become fixated on triumph is to misconstrue joy in reference to my sorrows.
I am becoming a wiser, healthier, more mindful descendant and ancestor through the melody and harmony of it all.
My purpose in delving into my family's lineage is two-fold:
1) To wisely create a family perpetual calendar and distribute it within our family to close the ancestor-descendant gap.
2) To wisely follow the thread of Jesus' faithful presence throughout our lineage. Tracing my family's roots on both sides is a spiritual act, a contemplative practice.
SOULjourner, if you are considering excavating your ancestral roots start with...
identifying and clarifying your PURPOSE — your why.
And let your why guide your path and give you focus. This way you do not get overwhelmed by all that is out there.
Also, I highly recommend you get your hands on my Holistic Contemplative Guide To Genealogy Research. You can access it on my Patreon page.
I want us to entrust our family's past, present and future to Jesus—He absolutely understands what it is like to come from a family.
What follows are some great resources for researching African-American genealogy. This is not a complete list (nor is it meant to be).
10+ Resources for African-American Genealogy Research
1. Your Family – If possible, ask your members (especially the older generations) about your family’s history.
2. US Federal Census Records (1870 and later)
3. Slave Census Records – Can be found at Ancestry.com (your local library has the full database version), FamilySearch.org, and FindMyPast. (Tip: Search individual state archives for slave schedules as well.)
4. Newspapers – In addition to the larger subscription databases, check Chronicling America (It’s free!) and individual state archive’s digital collections. Fold3 has made their African-American collection free.
5. Documenting the American South is sponsored by the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Search by topic or browse the collections. Slave narratives and the influence of the church on the African-American population are just a sample of what you can find. (Read more about DOCSouth here.)
7. Low Country Africana – African American Genealogy in SC, GA and FL – Beautiful website dedicated to African-American genealogy research of SC, GA, and FL ancestors.
10. Digital Library of American Slavery – sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG)
If you plan to stay current with my summer writing project (and it will extend into the fall, as well) make sure you join my email list and follow me and support me on Patreon. Spread the word.
Above: Grandmother Johnnie (M) Aunt Faith (R) Aunt Hope (L)
Below: My dad (M) His brother Christopher (L) His bother Darryl (R) His father, Grandad Christopher (far R)
Top: Me (Andrea "Angie")
Bottom: Dad and Mom (C) Clint (L) Marlon and Mario ("The Twins")
Mike (R) Marc (far R)
Prayer of The Day
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to You. Amen. - Psalm 145:1
Mohawkmomma Soul Podcast Episode:
Links For Further Discovery
Although not exhaustive, these books represent some of the best of contemporary thinking on the topic of anti-racism and African-American contemplative living.
Dr. Barbara Holmes
Andrea L. Palmer
Austin Channing Brown
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