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United Statesgo toAfrican American Genealogy

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Welcome to the African American Research page

Its most unique genealogical features:


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State African American Pages

How to do African American Genealogy Research

Did you know?

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  • The first African settlers in the U.S. were indentured servants in Jamestown, Va., in 1619 (before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock) and freed after 7 years.
  • African American is the most common ancestry in: Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
  • The Freedman's Bank and the Freedmen's Bureau were separate organizations, from different federal departments, in separate National Archives record groups.
  • Ten percent of the African American population was free before the Civil War.
  • Only 15 percent of freed slaves used the family name of a former owner.
  • From 1865 to 1875 many African Americans changed their family name.

Keys to success in African American research

You will find the most success researching African American ancestors if you begin with yourself, and follow oral history as well as historical records such as birth, marriage, and death certificates to document the previous generations.

Use the US Census to research your family groups. Many times, you may have difficulty in documenting an ancestor.If you research the collateral lines (aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins), you will discover more about your common ancestor and have a wealth of resources to explore.See United States Basic Search Strategies.

In the beginning, you may use the same type of genealogical records other groups use to identify ancestors. ;For this reason there is no need to duplicate state resources here. Consult the state and county articles on the FamilySearch Wiki first until you exhaust them. See Finding Records for Your Ancestors, Part A-African American 1870 to Present. You will find records become somewhat scarce as you move back in time.

Once you notice you are no longer able to find your ancestors on the records most commonly used by others, return here and choose the state above where your ancestor lived to discover records not commonly used in genealogy research.  

Key Internet Links

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  • This page was last modified on 27 March 2015, at 18:14.
  • This page has been accessed 4,471 times.