It’s really hard to believe! Struggling with African American Ancestry Research.

Why am I still doing genealogy research? Just a few thoughts have popped into my head. As a researcher sometimes I struggle with some of the facts/evidence I find. It forces me to come to terms with what I think of the human race and being an American overall. Some of the information is really interesting, exciting and some are horrible and unbelievable and the tears flow. Sometimes I just have to pray in order to stop myself becoming just like them. Today is July 8th and the KKK has planned a rally in Charlottesville. All this negative energy going on causes me also to struggle. I wish the media would stop flying the hype and BS and just ignore them. Now the praying really begins as I pray for peace and safety for all during the rally.

I am well aware of the challenges and struggles individuals will face when conducting African American ancestry. These challenges will surface dealing with other ancestry research as well. I too have the “brick wall challenges” just like anyone else. When doing African American ancestry researchers will face some of the following challenges:

  • Records not recorded into public record
  • Records destroyed
  • Denial-don’t want to know, it’s the past
  • Knows the info, but won’t share
  • Lack of access to information
  • Received information that is not the truth or reliable-questionable Oral History
  • Do you really have a brick wall/challenge? Did you create one?
  • You don’t know what you have-no analysis was done on the records (SO WHAT!)
  • Things are in the “house repositories” and not being shared
  • Not using FAN Principle by (E. Shown Mills)
  • Not using the Murphy’s “So What” concepts of analyzing information
  • Jumping out of the box too quick with assumptions and no evidence!
  • 21st century thinking

These challenges have to be worked out and resolved. Some might be conflicts or gaps. Some other things I struggle with are: the ownership of human beings, the selling of babies, families being torn apart, the Christian religion, rapes, and the killings. Yes, I said the Christian religion and that would be another conversation. Sometimes it is too much to bear and I have to close the file or the book. Just think, some individual’s, as in African Americans who survived the 18th and 19th century really don’t know whom their parents are or even what their real name is. This is not just those who were slaves, free born folks faced some horrendous conditions as well. Don’t assume they had it better. The readings will have you cringe on some of the things they faced. I have read in several different books and articles that once the Civil war was over some, now freed slaves spent the rest of their life searching for their family. Family: mother, father, and siblings or even aunts and uncles, etc. Can you image the lost feelings folks went through? How could this country allow this to happen?

Recently there was an article written by Shaun King about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemming’s relationship. Shaun was very clear, I mean very clear this was rape and basically folks need to stop romanticizing the relationship. (

Well Shaun King I have to agree with you. You nailed it right on the head. I can’t let all of the ugly be won over by the good. Some things will not get a pass from me. Mr. Jefferson continued to live with the fact that he owned people, broke up families and sold children away from their parents, etc.

This all becomes emotional and we won’t heal all of it but we will have to deal some of it. The emotional side individuals will have to prepare themselves as to how they will deal with the information and how they will share the information. I often ask myself is it my role as a researcher to tell some of these emotional things, or should I stay in my lane and just hand over the information. As researching how do we overcome our struggles or do we?

Happy Root Digging!



4 responses to “It’s really hard to believe! Struggling with African American Ancestry Research.”

  1. If you have more interest in this subject I recommend that you read “The Hemingses of Monticello An American Family” by Annette Gordon – Reed. She is a professor of law and history and it shows that in her book by the way she presents her facts and history. You will (I think) gain some new insights into this part of our history.

    1. Thanks for the comments and reading my blog. I know her and her book. What is it you are suggesting that I read about?

      1. I had read the book a few months ago and found it very interesting. I thought since part of your blog the Heming’s family were talked about you might find the book interesting. For me the book showed a part of the story that I did not know about. The family dynamics, the way of life, some of the laws, the story of the people, gave me much to think about. What did you think of the book?

      2. Oh yes I have read the book, know Annettee and live down the road from Monticello, very interesting story, but do not like the romanancizing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: