As we enjoy the last day of February, it’s good to remember that February is the month we celebrate Black History Month. Originally called National African American History Month, it is the month we recognize the achievements of African Americans throughout the country and the profound roles they have played in U.S. history. We recognize African American contributions to the arts, the sciences, education, politics and literally every part of the American culture.
This is a time to focus our attention to the individual lives and contributions of well known figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Louis Armstrong, Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman and so very many more who gave us so what we enjoy today. It is also a time when we show our respect and appreciation to our own African American ancestors by learning about their lives and reading what they did to leave their mark in the pages of American history. It is our obligation to never forget the sacrifices they made and to teach our children who these people were.
As you begin to search out the stories of your ancestors, visit FamilySearch to connect with some excellent historical record collections. Some of these collections include:
- United States, Civil War Service Records of Union Colored Troops, 1863-1865
- Freedmans Bank Records, 1865-1874
- Freedmen’s Bureau Marriages, 1815-1869
- Virginia, Freedmen’s Bureau Letters, 1865-1872
Other excellent records include census records, birth, marriage and death records, probate records, family trees and more, depending where one’s ancestors lived.
FamilySearch also includes 11 excellent online classes that cover some aspect of doing African American research. You will discover historical documents and photographs that will shed light on the lives of early African Americans. You will also find links to dozens of online websites that provide a wide variety of historical and genealogical resources for genealogists and family historians.
It’s especially exiting to know that FamilySearch now makes it possible for everyone to post photographs and stories about family members and loved ones to the FamilySearch Family Tree. Few things add more life to names, dates and places than photos of our ancestors and stories of special events in their lives. Take time to visit with your living relatives, especially the older ones who still remember those that have passed on. See what photographs they might have of your ancestors. Write down their stories and add them to Family Tree where others will be able to enjoy what you have added. What better way to honor the lives of your ancestors than to gather and preserve their photos and the stories and add them Family Tree for all to enjoy.
Visit FamilySearch.org to learn more about your African American heritage and see what you can be proud of.