African American Genealogy
by Mandy Mathews, Family Historian
The genealogist with African American heritage has a unique journey to find their ancestors. African American research is much more difficult due to the lack of records prior to the Civil War. Much of the African American’s genealogy can be traced to a time when the history was passed on through stories and songs, a verbal history was told to each generation.
Following the Civil War, many different records become available. Many states have made some of their records available online. Here is a list of states with records available online:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Beginning as early as the 1840 Federal Census, several states have census records listing “Free Persons of Color.” Other valuable sources are the Federal Slave Schedules and the Federal Mortality Schedules.
Some valuable websites with emphasis placed upon African American genealogy are:
This is a brief introduction to some of the records available and where one might begin their internet research. African American research is difficult, but it is still worth doing. As with all genealogy research, you will never know what you can find if you never look for it, so please give it a try.