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Afro-American Genealogical Research: Case Studies

Strategies, clues, and inspiration are to be gained by reading reports of other genealogists' successful searches for their African American family history.

  1. Cerny, Johni.
    "From Maria to Bill Cosby: A Case Study in Tracing Black Slave Ancestry"
    National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 75 (1987):5-14.
    v. 1 (no. [1]- ); Apr. 1912-- [Arlington, Va. etc.: National Genealogical Society Quarterly (June 1978-)
    CS42 .N4

    Illustrates careful use of evidence.

  2. Mills, Gary B. and Elizabeth Shown Mills.
    "Roots and the New Faction: A Legitimate Tool for Clio?"
    The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 89 (1981):35-49.
    The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. v. 1, July 1893.
    Richmond: Virginia Historical Society. v : ill. F221 .V91 Quarterly.

  3. Mills, Elizabeth Shown and Gary B. Mills.
    "The Genealogist's Assessment of Alex Haley's Roots."
    National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 72 (1984): 35-49.

    Analysis of genealogical research and use of evidence.
    Discussion of oral history versus documentation.
    CS42 .N4 17-12813

  4. Peters, Joan W.
    Local Sources for African-American Family Historians: Using County Court Records and Census Returns.
    [Broad Run, Va.]: J.W. Peters, 1993. 42, iv, 128 p., ill.
    E185.96 .P385 1993
    Includes bibliographical references (p. 40-42, first group).

    Demonstrates use of county-level resources and state archives, including nineteenth-century personal property tax records, county registers of free negroes, overseers of the poor indentures in court minute books. Includes a useful reading list.

  5. Redford, Dorothy Spruill and Michael D'Orso.
    Somerset Homecoming: Recovering a Lost Heritage.
    Introduction by Alex Haley. 1st ed. New York: Doubleday, 1988. xviii, 266 p., ill.
    E185.96 .R42 1988
    Bibliography: p. 265-266.

    A family research project which turned into the history and genealogy of an entire plantation describing difficulties, setbacks, successes and triumphs. It is a remarkable example of a family research project, eminently readable, and highly recommended for everyone attempting Black genealogical research.

  6. Streets, David H.
    Slave Genealogy: A Research Guide with Case Studies.
    Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1986. iv, 87 p.
    E185.96 .S817 1986
    Bibliography: p. 85-87.

    Frank discussion of problems and limitations unique to African American genealogical research. This publication discusses surnames, and where to look for African Americans in the Federal Census.

  7. Sutton, Karen E.
    The Nickens Family: How to Trace a Non-slave African American Lineage from Virginia to Maryland and Back.
    Baltimore, Md. (3324 W. Caton Avenue, Baltimore 21229-3742): K.E. Sutton, 1993. 1 v. (various pagings), ill.
    CS71 .N655 1993
    Includes bibliographical references. Includes important advice at the back of the book for beginning genealogists.

    Material prepared in conjunction with: National Genealogical Society, Conference in the States, held in Baltimore, Md., Friday, 4 June 1993.
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