Do you really have a brick wall prior to 1870 when researching African American ancestry? It is good to analyze if you are the one putting up the wall or is it really the records and resources. Being able to step outside the box and view things a little differently will help. Analyzing records is key. It is important to understand the records-asking why was it created, when was it created, know the laws in place when records were created. Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist does an excellent job providing tips and examples of how important it is to know the law. (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/)
The blog, DISCOVERY: Slave Name Roll Project I am sharing is one to follow. Read her past blogs and gain some tips and steps on breaking down those slave research walls. Share your findings!
The 1870 brick wall is no less surmountable in cyberspace than it is in the analog archives of today’s courthouses. Court records from times past divulge varieties of slave/slaveholder relationships. Knowing the records exist is not the same as locating and examining them for myself. I do realize this problem is not exclusive to African Americans. But the fact still remains that it is more difficult due to the fact that my enslaved ancestors were considered chattel property; and, prior to 1870, they had no surnames. And even their given names are inconsistently recorded in the census records that followed.
Some have managed to scramble over their brick walls — only to find . . . yet another. Then what do we do? We dust ourselves off and rescale to the other side to devise another way.
Insurmountable? Maybe. Impenetrable? Not if Cathy Meder-Dempsey and Schalene Jennings Dagutis have anything…
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