This overview discusses key record collections for tracing African American ancestry, challenges and strategies for working with enslaved ancestors, and how DNA testing can help connect to African origins.
If your African American ancestors lived in the U.S. by 1940, researching them back to the Reconstruction era involves the same techniques required for researching any group of people with family here during this same period of time. We will touch on those key building block techniques and record collections applicable to family history in general, as well as collections of particular interest to African Americans.
Not all African Americans arrived in the U.S. during the slavery era, but a significant number did. The manner in which the legal and social structure of that time treated slaves presents significant challenges to those trying to research their slave-era ancestors of African descent. Those challenges should not dissuade you! Tracing your slave-era relatives is not an impossible task. We will discuss some strategies for success.
- Become familiar with a core set of record collections for researching African Americans.
- Develop a basic understanding of strategies for tracing slave, free black , and more recent immigrant ancestors of African descent.
- Learn how DNA can assist with African American research.