Journey Into Your Past: African American Genealogy Resources
Journey into the lives of your ancestors through the published records and online resources at the Library of Congress. Learn strategies to overcome roadblocks in the historical record. Explore the untold stories of generations past by searching digitized oral histories, newspapers, maps, and photographs documenting African American lives in America. Below is a brief selection of the resources available to assist the researcher in recreating the stories that define and shape a family tree.
Compiled by Ahmed Johnson, Reference Librarian
Culture & Society
- The African-American Experience in Ohio: Selections from the Ohio Historical Society, 1850-1920
- Texts and images describing the history of black Ohio from 1850 to 1920, a story of slavery and freedom, segregation and integration, religion and politics, migrations and restrictions, harmony and discord, and struggles and successes.
- African American Sheet Music
- Civil War period music includes songs about African-American soldiers and the plight of the newly emancipated slave. Post-Civil War music reflects the problems of Reconstruction and the beginnings of urbanization and the northern migration of African Americans.
- An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera
- Proclamations, advertisements, programs, clippings, and other printed material of everyday activities of ordinary people from the growth of the nation from the American Revolution through the Industrial Revolution up to present day.
- Advertisement for Trust Sale at Front Royal
- Plan for Improving the Condition of Free Blacks, 1789
- The Church in the Southern Black Community
- Texts documenting how the black community adapted evangelical Christianity, making it a metaphor for freedom, community, and personal survival.
- Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1933-Present
- Images documenting architecture, engineering, and design in the United States and its territories including examples of plantation homes, slave quarters, and home styles in towns and cities nationwide.
- Map Collections
- Maps grouped in seven categories: Cities & Towns, Conservation and Environment, Cultural Landscapes, Discovery & Exploration, General, Military Battles & Campaigns, and Transportation & Communication.
- Maps of Liberia, 1830-1870
- Twenty maps from the American Colonization Society, organized in 1817 to resettle free black Americans in West Africa.
Slave Narratives & Slavery
- African American Mosaic
- An online exhibition covering colonization, abolition, and migrations.
- Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938
- Photographs of former slaves and sound recordings of first-person accounts of slavery.
- First-Person Narratives of the American South
- Diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, travel accounts, and ex-slave narratives of not only prominent individuals, but also of relatively inaccessible populations: women, African Americans, enlisted men, laborers, and Native Americans.
- Voices From the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories
- Recorded interviews from twenty-three individuals in nine Southern States who recount their lives and experiences.
Military Records & Wartime Experiences
- America From the Great Depression to World War II, 1935-1945
- Photographs documenting rural life and the negative impact of the Great Depression, farm mechanization, the Dust Bowl, and the mobilization effort for World War II.
- Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
- Photographs, letters, and first person accounts from people who have served in America’s conflicts at home and abroad.
Resource Guides & Bibliographies
- African American Families and Related Works at the Library of Congress
- 183 genealogies and handbooks on topics ranging from abolitionists, American Loyalists, and revolutionaries to masters and slaves, freedmen, Civil War soldiers, and Cherokee Indians.
- African American Sites in the Digital Collections
- Chronological listing of resources on the Library of Congress Web site related to African American history and culture in the United States.
- Afro-American Genealogical Research
- Basic guide to conducting genealogical research.
- Other Internet Sources on Local History and Genealogy
- Links to a variety of external resources for conducting genealogical research.
- Slavery Resource Guide
- Links to slavery resources throughout the Library of Congress Web site, links to external Web sites focusing on slavery, and a bibliography containing selections for both general and younger readers.
External links (denoted by ) are to collections that were formerly part of the Library of Congress American Memory project and are now housed on the websites of other institutions.