Thank you Valerie for blogging on this topic. First it is important for European American genealogy researchers to not be afraid or feel the they can’t relate. The reason they might feel they don’t relate is because they don’t think they have African or any other ancestry but European. I say it really shouldn’t matter. It really is about learning the methods and strategies that are used to conduct genealogy research, any genealogy research. And when we do people of color research, I have the belief that “the research does not have a color/race or ethnicity, but the records have different locations where they live or are housed. There is a point when individuals researching their African American ancestry and get to the 1870 census, that is critical. If you do not know the significance of the 1870 federal population census for African American research, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If they want to go back further than 1870 and they think their ancestors might have been enslaved, the researcher will have to look for the white people via the surname and research the whole community/county, not necessarily looking for people of color. We all have things to learn on a daily basis. There is no magic in genealogy research, it’s work, its digging and it’s asking questions. It’s sticking to the basics and having the evidence to back it up.
Here are 10 tips to keep in mind when doing genealogy research-they are the Murphy’s Law of Genealogy: 1) set a goal of what you want to find out about an ancestor. 2) begin a timeline on this ancestor with “what you know” about the ancestor, 3) locate the community they lived in, learn the community/county, 4) find out what resources are available at the local level, 5) check out what might be available online via familysearch.org or ancestry.com, etc. 6) continue building the timeline with birth, deaths, marriage, wills, and land ownership information and records such as federal and state census, anything that happen to and around this ancestor, every year 7) realize what you are missing or what information is conflicting or has a gap, question it using familytreegirl’s “So What” technique 8) find out who else might be researching this same family 9) join a genealogy group, use social media , read blogs, listen to podcasts and blogtalk radio shows, attend a hangout, and 10) remember to cite your resources.
Here are some of my favorites places to visit:
Research at the National Archives and Beyond-Bernice Bennett, blogtalk radio show
Dear Myrtle Monday’s with Myrtle or her Wacky Wednesday’s-hangouts
Libraries like the Library of Virginia
Military research like fold3.com
Google…is your friend-ask it a question
Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI)
Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, Ft. Wayne, IN
About a month ago I joined a Black Ancestry Group on Facebook. You may think this is an odd thing to do considering I am not Black. I did it for a specific reason, to ask a question that had been plaguing me for a long time. The following is the question that I finally asked about 5 days ago.
“I have had this question rolling around in my head for several years but didn’t know who I could ask about it. I have been afraid it may offend people but I have read some posts on here so I feel comfortable asking. Let me preference it with this: Unfortunately I have several slave owners in my family tree, some dating back into the late 1600’s. I have some wills that give names and locations. Would it help others if we were able to list those names and locations…
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