Category Archives: African Roots

African Roots Podcast Episode #283 September 5th, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


Contraband Memorial in Alexandria

Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast! I can be reached at

Well the fall season is upon us, and though the weather has not yet changed, events for fall are unfolding, so the next two months are going to be filled with exciting events!

This weekend in Alexandria there will be a series of lectures and events celebrating the heritage of African American. Alexandria will celebrate the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial.  Events actually started on Wednesday the 3rd and will continue through the weekend. Tomorrow there will be a dedication of the new memorial on Washington and Church Street in Alexandria. On Sunday there will be several events scheduled at area churches where descendants from the community will be attending. So if you are in the greater Washington DC area and/or in northern Virginia, you may want to check out these events. I want to thank Char McCargo Bah for sharing this information. As many of you know, Char Bah has been actively researching and working to preserve the African American history of Alexandria for many years.



National Archives Announces Virtual Fair for October!

National Archives Virtual Fair

You have heard me mention the virtual fairs in the past, well the National Archives located in  Washington DC has announced that it will host the third Virtual Genealogy Fair and all of it will be live streamed on the internet. The dates are October 28-30th 2014 online. Everything will be seen live on YouTube as they unfold. The presenters will members of the National Archives staff from around the country, and also from the US Citizen and Naturalization Services.  So tune in on all 3 days. The lectures will interested both beginning and experienced genealogists.


Melvin Collier Announces Lectures 

Photo Courtesy of Melvin Collier

Genealogist and author Melvin Collier has announce his upcoming lectures for October. If you have never heard him speak, then you will be in for a treat. He teaches as he presents and  you will walk away inspired.

He will be speaking at the annual conference of the Chicago African American Genealogical and Historical Society and also at the Indiana African American Genealogy Group’s  annual conference on October 18th. I have had the wonderful experience of having spoken at both of these groups’ annual event, and I know that they should both be great! So if you live in either Chicago, or Indianapolis, I am sure that you will enjoy hearing Melvin Collier.


Author Michael Henderson 

Well if you have wondered sometimes why you spend so much of your time doing research, and what you would like to leave behind, you may want to listen in to Bernice Bennett’s show from last night. Her guest was author Michael Henderson, author of Got Proof! He spoke about the critical need to leave a legacy of your research. You know–we all have relatives who may not share our passion for what we do, and after we leave this world, it is so important to leave a legacy of all of your work. You are doing it for a reason and hopefully one of those reasons is to preserve history! Therefore writing it, sharing it and presenting it for others to access is so important. If you missed last night’s episode of her show, Research at the National Archives and Beyond, then listen to the archived verson. Her show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm on Blog Talk Radio.


African American Father for Vietnamese Woman Sought

I mentioned Brian Hjort a few weeks ago. He is part of an organization providing assistance for persons in Vietnam, hoping to connect with their American fathers. He shared a case with me, and also shared a photo of an African American man with his daughter left behind in Vietman. Interestingly he lives in Denmark and his story is an interesting one in addition to the people he is assisting. His goal is to assist a woman in her 40s in finding her father whose photo appears below. If  you know persons who may be able to assist in this effort you may contact


Indexing Project Continues

Please remember to contribute to the indexing project for the Freedman’s Bureau project! This is a partnership between the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Family Search, to make this critical record set more accessible for researchers and scholars.


Thank you again for listening to this week’s podcast, and thank you for sharing your events as well. In the meantime, keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!

African Roots Podcast #282 August 29, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast! You can reach me at

Well the last official week of summer is here and I know that many are preparing for the Labor Day weekend, with family gatherings and backyard BBQ’s and picnics! I hope that you have a good one planned as well. It is still warm in many places, and I hope that you have gotten some relief to the weather.


A shout out to all who are attending the FGS Conference in San Antonio this weekend. And the schedule for 2015 has been uploaded and you can prepare for Early Bird Registration. Now—you know that FGS has partnered with Family Search to offer the combined FGS-ROOTSTECH event in February 2015! This will be the largest genealogy event in history!

Diversity comes to Salt Lake City! The combined FGS-ROOTSTECH event, Janis Minor Forte will be speaking, as will Bernice Alexander Bennet, and your truly, Angela Walton-Raji will be speaking at Roots Tech, and across the convention center will be Dr. Shelley Murphy will be presenting at the FGS Conference. Also Dr. Deborah Abbott will also be there speaking! So I hope that genealogy friends in the western part of the country, will also consider coming to this major genealogy event! So save your pennies, make your reservations early and I hope to see you there!


Genealogist Sharon Battiste Gillens

Speaking of Bernice Bennett, her Blog Talk Radio show featured Sharon Battiste Gillens was her guest speaking about the amazing records to be found with Record Group 105–the records of the Freedman’s Bureau. This is a critical record set that is not yet indexed. And this is time for all of us to join the Indexing project. But last night’s show had an excellent overview of this under-utilized set of records. I am happy that she has made this an area of focus and she is one of the most well versed on the record types that can be found. So tune in to last night’s show. As we know Ms. Bennet’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9 pm EST on Blog Talk Radio.


Essential Records and Databases for African American Genealogy

We know from genealogist and author Tony Burroughs the right steps to take to document family history. Oral history, exploring the family archives, Exploring Census from 1940 to 1870, Identifying the Slave Holder, Studying the slave holder’s history, Finding the earliest ancestor who arrived in America. We know these steps–and I also like to insert into his list—the need to find and to tell the family’s freedom story.

Beyond that—there are some records and resources that we need to know that they exist and to make sure that we look at them.
-Freedman’s Bureau (National Archives Record Group 105)
-Freedman Saving’s Bank
-Slave Narratives – Oral History Project
-US Colored Troops – Service Records (Found on Fold 3)
-National Park Service – Soldier and Sailors Database of Civil War Regiments (including US Colored Troops)

Some specialized Records Unique to one area:
-Slave Ship Manifests (Mostly Gulf Coast)
-Oklahoma Freedman Records (Dawes Records of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes) Enrollment Cards and Interviews
-FBI Case Files – Military Intelligence Records: Negro Subversion Files

These record collections are useful. I think that I should also suggest that one learn how to manipulate the many databases out there. When keyword is allowed of course use the term “Negro” in the search. But also use the word “colored” or Black and even the two words “black man, or black woman”. When searching for enslaved people, use the word “slave”, and also use the word “slavery” which can frequently bring up additional links to explore. So remember to modify the search in as many ways as you can, which may yield additional links.


Curtis Family Reunion

A shout out to the Curtis family of Prince George’s County Maryland! Their 46th Family reunion will unfold in Upper Marlboro Maryland this weekend! I have the honor of speaking at the reunion and look forward to being there with them!

I am winding down after an amazing week. I started out the week with some research at the National Archives that yielded some wonderful results from Civil War pension files!

Secondly I welcomed the latest branch of my family was born! My latest niece Anna Rose, was born in Washington DC! I am still on new-baby high welcoming this beautiful baby into the family!


Welcoming my latest niece Anna Rose into the family


Well as I wind down things so I wish you all a great Labor Day weekend! Have a great time with friends and family this weekend, and thank you for taking time to tune in here! Next week the monthly class at the Historical Society of Baltimore County will unfold on Thursday morning at 10:00 am.

Please remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what your find!