R&C African American Research After the Civil War

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Many of the records and procedures for finding information about African American people alive during the 1900s to the present are the same as would be used for caucasion research in the 1800s, but many are different or have different procedures.


• Decide what you want to know about a person who lived in the 20th century.
• List who would know (relatives, friends, neighbors, government, school, church)
• Determine at least a general locality and time frame.
• Write down everything you know about the person. (Name, nicknames, names of relatives and friends, schools, places lived and worked with dates, religion, hobbies, etc.)
• Be organized. Write down 1) who you contacted when with addresses and results and 2) records searched when and where with results.
• Is person alive or dead? Ask relatives & friends. Check Social Security Death Index at RootsWeb at http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com  


Contact or search the following:
   • Living relatives or friends (see Finding Living People below)
   • Previous research:
   • Family Histories
   • PERSI (PERiodical Source Index at www.ancestry.com)
   • Censuses- 1930, 1920, 1910, 1900, 1880 at www.ancestry.com
   • Vital records-state, county, city (see Search Engines below & www.cyndislist.com)
   • National Center for Health Stats. at www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm
   • Land records-BLM and deeds
   • BLM at www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch/Default.asp (Basic and Standard searches)
   • Deeds at the county courthouse
   • City directories to find where they were living and neighbors who may still be there
   • Churches (see Internet Telephone Directories below)
   • Schools and Colleges
   • Write to the school or college, which may give an address or may forward a letter.
   • Historically Black Colleges and Universities at www.edonline.com/cq/hbcu
   • Newspapers
   • Put an ad in newspapers in the town where the person lived.
      - Give the person’s name, age, when lived in that town, address in that town if known, names of parents, school person attended, etc.
      - Explain why you want to find the person.
   • To find newspapers, search the following. Type newspapers as the category.
      - SuperPages at www.superpages.com
      - The Ultimates at www.theultimates.com/yellow  
   • Bibliographic Checklist of African American Newspapers, by Barbara K. Henritze
   • Voters registration
   • Hobbies (see Search Engines below)
   • Employment/co-workers – Relatives or directories may give where person worked.
   • Various types of information-BRB Publications at www.brbpub.com/pubrecsites.asp
   • Internet message boards:
   • Keep messages short but give names, dates, and places. Explain what you want. For a living person, briefly explain why you want to find the person.
   • Post a query in the message boards of Internet sites, such as www.rootsweb.com (free)
   • Remember where you put the message, so you can check later for responses.


   • WWI draft registration at www.ancestry.com Films are at the Family History Library.
   • National Personnel Records Center www.archives.gov/facilities/mo/st_louis.html  
   • The National Personnel Records Center has records for discharged, deceased, or retired personnel of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Fire in 1973 destroyed many.
   • Some information from personnel records can be sent on request, such as rank, date of birth, place and date of death, place of burial, photograph, and place of last residence.
   • To request military personnel files:
   • Fill out a Standard Form 180
      - At www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/get-service-records.html  
      - At Local Veterans Administration offices (check phone book)

   • Send form 180 to National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63132
   • In an emergency, the American Red Cross will help send a message to a family member currently in the military. To find an American Red Cross chapter in your area, see www.redcross.org/where/where.html  


Search the following:
   • Death certificates-state, county or city (see www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm)
   • Databases:
   • FamilySearch at www.familysearch.org
   • Rootsweb at www.rootsweb.com
   • Ancestry at www.ancestry.com
   • Cemetery and sexton records (See Telephone Directories & Search Engines below)
   • Interment at www.interment.net
   • USGenWeb Cemetery Transcription Project = www.rootsweb.com/~cemetery  
   • Find a Grave = www.findagrave.com
   • Cyndi’s List for cemeteries = www.cyndislist.com/cemetery.htm
   • Obituaries (See Search Engines below)
   • Funeral homes (See Telephone Directories below)


   • Telephone directories (The best way to find the living)
   • The Ultimates at www.theultimates.com/white  
   • Search Bug at www.searchbug.com
   • Telephone Directories on the Web at www.infobel.com/teldir  
   • Internet sites with instructions on finding living people:
   • Cyndi’s List at www.cyndislist.com under category of Finding People
   • Barbara Renick at www.zroots.com/locating.htm  
   • Social Security Administration
   • The SS Administration will forward a letter. For details and restrictions, see www.ssa.gov/SSA_Home.html 
      - In the box “Questions about:”, choose “This Website”.
      - In the Search Text box, type “forwarding letters”.
      - Click Can Social Security help me find a missing person?
   • Place your letter in a plain, unsealed, stamped envelope with the person’s name on the envelope.
   • Write a letter to SS explaining why you want to contact the person.
   • Place the unsealed envelope and your letter to SS in an envelope addressed to: 
       Social Security Administration Letter Forwarding
       P.O. Box 33022
       Baltimore, MD 21290-3022


   • Use the following Internet search engines:
   • Google at www.google.com
   • Vivisimo at www.vivisimo.com
   • Mamma at www.mamma.com
   • Search by name or locality. You can narrow results with places, dates, or keywords.


   • Cyndi’s List at www.cyndislist.com under the category of Adoption.
   • International Soundex Reunion Registry (for all types of separation) at www.isrr.net  

Specifics About African American Records/Sources

   • During the segregation era, records about African Americans may be in separate books or at the back of the books for white Americans.
   • Afrigeneas at www.afrigeneas.com  
   • American Memory at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem
   • Slave narratives at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.html  
   • Access Genealogy at www.accessgenealogy.com/african 


   • Be flexible. Try many things.
   • Try variations of a name, both the first and last names.
   • Typed letters will be more successful than handwritten letters.
   • Be sure to give the appropriate name, dates, and places.
   • Only official government Internet sites end with .gov


   • Black Roots: A Beginner’s Guide to Tracing the African American…, by Tony Burroughs
   • African American Records Quick Guide, by Family History Library
   • How to Locate Anyone Who is or Has Been in the Military, by Lt. Col. Richard Johnson
   • Locating Lost Family Members & Friends, by Kathleen Hinckley
   • Searcher’s Directory, by Trish Parnell
   • You, Too, Can Find Anybody, by Joseph Culligan
   • Search and Support Directory: Lists Fees, Addresses, Phone Numbers… & Other Data on Adoption Search/Support Organizations Worldwide…, by Mary Jo Rillera