Black History Culture : How to go about researching family tree?

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by MsInterpret, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. MsInterpret

    MsInterpret Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I was reading Bro omowalejabali 's thread Strange Fruit From The Family Tree and I got to wondering how I and others can go about finding more about their Family's history.

    So far, I know that Fredrick Douglas is one of my great uncles. But that's as far as I know on my mother's side. My father's side seems to be a mystery as he doesn't know his father and my grandmother never speaks about it.

    What are some ways to dig deep into finding more info?
     
  2. Shikamaru

    Shikamaru Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Begin speaking with the eldest members of your family. Record or write down what they say.

    Next, you can hit up libraries and their archives. Census records, birth records, marriage certificates, etc. can be most helpful.

    You will want to create a family tree either by paper or by software. I believe there are software packages that you can use for creating family trees.

    Creating a database or spreadsheet of currently known family members would be a good idea too.

    Ancestors.com may be another source.

    While you are at it, you may want to do DNA tests to see what tribes and nations you are descendant from from Africa.
     
  3. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    It helps if you have elder relatives who have recorded their lineage.

    As far as computer programs are concerned, I use familytreemaker and was able to share online which other researchers in my family accessed and contacted me. This helped because we started sharing. Ancestry. com be useful in starting trees at no cost, and connecting with other family. I also suggest using Roots web and Afrigeneas.

    As far as African American genealogy is concerned, most genealogists suggest finding the census records for as many relatives that you can find dating back to the 1870 census because it was the first one in the post slavery era.
     
  4. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Digging deep will involve going to a genealogical library and doing some traveling.

    I used to go to the Mormon family research center before they moved most of their books to Utah. I used their on line programs until I exhausted their database.

    I was fortunate because my Dad did a lot of work on his immediate family going back about four or five generations and I took it back further. On my Mom's side it was easier because the family names are not as common and my maternal grandfathers family were free Blacks in New Orleans before the civil war, which means they have births and marriages recorded in church records which are more reliable than census records.

    The DNA testing can reveal some surprising results do be prepared for the unexpected if you choose that route. It can be expensive and you can get results that will still leave many questions unresolved. A large percentage of us got European somewhere in our Bloodlines, and when this is revealed, it often stops us from researching. That strange fruit can leave a bitter taste. But it can also unlock some doors to the past that will challenge how you see yourself and your story.
     
  5. MsInterpret

    MsInterpret Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Unfortunately my eldest family member (dad's), my great grandfather, just passed two months ago...and my grandmother isn't the greatest person to get any sort of facts from...

    However my mother's side seems more promising, as my great cousin seems to know more about our history as far as in Philadelphia...So I guess I can start there...Plus, like your dad, my mom began her's studying so I have some tree's written and then my other grandmother is pretty much the only one still in touch with most of the family, such as distant cousins and what-not.
     
  6. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    At least you have a starting point. Good luck in your research!
     
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