Category Archives: African Roots

African Roots Podcast Episode #272 June 20th 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well a Happy Juneteenth weekend to you!

This is the 149th Anniversary of the day that General Granger sailed into Galveston Harbor informing those still enslaved that the slaves were freed at last! Major events have been unfolding throughout the country since last weekend, and I hope you have been able to take advantage of them.


Press Release from Family Search 

Family Search Offers More Freedman’s Bureau Records!

Great news came out on Wednesday of this week! Family Search has announced that there is a brand new set of recently digitized Freedman’s Bureau Records for researchers!!

The new states included are:  Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland. This brings their total number of states now digitized to seven, and there are now hundreds of thousands of pages to study and to index!

This release comes in honor of Juneteeth, which is the celebration of Freedom that originated in June 1865, when General Granger sailed into Galveston Harbor and notified those still enslaved that freedom had come!


New African American Funeral Program Collection Online

Enoch Pratt Library has just announced that they have added a special collection of African American Funeral Programs to their digital holdings. Enoch Pratt Free Library is the public library for Baltimore, Maryland, and this collection consists of close to 2000 funeral programs, of mostly African Americans from Maryland. There are also some persons of national reputation also included in the collection. Each page of the funeral programs are digitized and can be viewed online.

To view entire program, click HERE 


Best wishes to our friends in Kentucky! They are having a special Roots picnic and a get to know you gathering, on this Juneteenth weekend! They already has a special Juneteenth event honoring the event last weekend at the African Cemetery in Lexington Kentucky! I have been following them for some time, and I think know that there is a good amount of Civil War activity in various parts of Kentucky.

And a shout out to my own local friends here in Maryland of the Agnes Callum AAHGS Chapter as they are having a special 25th anniversary banquet this weekend.


Listen to Podcast HERE!

 I mentioned 2 weeks ago when I was at the SCGS Jamboree, that I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Genealogy Guys—-George Morgan and Drew Smith. Well I am excited to tell you that the podcast was uploaded this week from that interview!!

I was thrilled and honored to be interviewed by these two and it was so much fun!!  They are the pioneers in genealogy podcasting, and what a treat to be guest on the very show that inspired me to host this podcast!

Thanks George and Drew!



Speaking of podcasts, if you missed Bernice Bennett’s show last night, then tune in to hear her show as a podcast, as her guest was Craig Steven Wilder, author of Ebony and Ivy!

What an eye opener—this book addresses the little known segment in history of how the Ivy league institutions–each and every one has a hidden legacy of slavery. On some campuses there were more slaves than students—all labor in the late 1700s and early 1800s was complete by enslaved men and women. If repairs were needed to facilities—to raise money—a slave was sold to pay for it. The story discussed was a fascinating one, and truly enlightening. You will want to purchase a copy of Dr. Wilder’s book after hearing the show. Remember that Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm EST.

Only two more weeks to get in your proposal for the 2015 Roots Tech event in Salt Lake City Utah in  February 2015.


Legacy Family Tree Webinar

Tune into to my webinar next Wednesday June 2th dicussing Native American Genealogy Research.


Well winding down on this Juneteenth weekend hoping that you will take some time to reflect and remember what Juneteenth is about, remember those who went through so much during the years of enslavement and also to appreciate the fact that not only did freedom come—but to commit to finding and telling your family’s freedom story.

 Thank you for listening and taking time from your own schedule–you have tons of choices—I appreciate you and love hearing from you.

Remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find.

African Roots Podcast Episode #271 June 13th, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Greetings everyone, it is good to be back home in Maryland, but I had an amazing time last week at the SCGS Jamboree, in Burbank California! I met some wonderful people and was thrilled to see so many genealogists that I often see only online. I had a wonderful time and had the honor to participate in a panel with Nicka Sewell Smith and Bernice Alexander Bennett. We discussed the Future of Genealogy and the feedback that we got was truly wonderful!

I was so excited to also be taped by the Genealogy Guys podcasters, George Morgan and Drew Smith! I was interviewed by them, and what an honor. They have inspired me to create this podcast, so being on their show was a truly great experience!


The entire experience at the SCGS Jamboree was wonderful and I am energized for more events as the summer conference season emerges.


Massive Database on Slavery from the UK

Link to Database

While in California last week, I had the chance to meet Dr. Maurice Gleeson of the UK who spoke to me about an incredible project that he is working on involving British legacy of slave ownership in the British West Indies. Dr. Gleeson gave the keynote address at the Jamboree, and he was also a guest earlier this week on Bernice Bennett’s Blog Talk Radio Program, Research at the National Archives and Beyond. 

He shared so much about this massive project and I learned a great deal about British activities in the West Indies, including the fact that many of the early slaves in the Carribbean were actually Irish slaves. Within a few years some once enslaved actually became slave owners as well.

But you are urged to listen to the archived podcast and the amazing interview with Dr. Gleeson, as it was quite revealing. And most of all there is the incredible database of British slave ownership that has been constructed. I looked at the database and was truly amazed at some of the information that could be extracted. Slavery ended much earlier for the UK than America and there was a surprising amount of information about more than 4000 estates! The interview will capture your attention and I hope you take some time to explore that amazing database as well.


So What?

Last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show was an exciting show with Dr. Shelley Murphy who spoke in detail about the So What concept? This is a great concept and great discussion on how one document can lead you to more documents. The dialogue last night was an engaging exchange, and Dr. Murphy discussed methods of actually analyzing data, and how to actually make that “reasonably exhaustive search” so often mentioned! You should by all means tune in to catch the archived show if you missed it last night. Remember Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm EST on Blog Talk Radio.


Well, this is genealogy webinar season and a great time to get some good tips from multiple presenters. If you missed Lisa Alzo, she has some super tips on jump starting your genealogy projects, and has wonderful links and tools to help you write that story.  I am also honored to present a webinar in about 2 weeks, on Native American genealogy, and I am excited about that. If you catch the live broadcast it is free of charge and you have a wonderful opportunity to also download notes and even ask questions of the presenter in the webinars. The best thing about webinars is that they can be viewed from home. For a list of all upcoming webinars, click HERE.


Well, it’s time for Juneteenth!

The Season to celebrate Freedom is here—it’s time for Juneteenth! We all know the history coming out of Galveston Texas in June of 1865. Well over the past 149 years the annual celebrations have evolved and spread throughout the country.

Even here in Maryland, we look forward to Juneteenth in the genealogy community as we know that the Prince George’s County chapter of AAHGS will have their annual Juneteeth event. Well tomorrow—–For 9th year in a row their Juneteenth Seminar will take place at the Nature center at Watkins Regional Park. This is an all day event and a family friendly event. Vera Williams who is the 3rd gr. Granddaughter of Solomon Northup will be a special guest .

The Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. Prince George’s County Maryland Chapter (AAHGS-PGCM), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Suitland (Maryland), and the Prince George’s County Historical Society will jointly sponsor the Ninth Annual Juneteenth Seminar, “Footprints and Roots,” for tomorrow’ss event.

All the activities at both of these community events are FREE and open to the public. For more information, call Carolyn Rowe, (301) 292-2751 or Jane Thomas, (301) 292-1207


Roots Tech Deadline

The Call for Papers continues for Roots Tech 2015. We should consider and commit to participating and telling the story. We need to take our stories, our databases, our websites that we use frequently to tell those amazing stories of survival. And yes, we need to present at Roots Tech as well. Remember that 2015 is a milestone year for so many reason. As we tell the stories of why this is a landmark year, we should commit ourselves to being involved in this historic event which promises to be the largest genealogical event in history. And our participation is equally as important!


Well now that summer is truly here—-as we have the summer storms to prove it—it is also family reunion time!! What fun—-old cousins, some new cousins—elders, children, old photos, old stories and all the food!!

Well—-I look forward to two events this August—I have the honor of attending two reunions in Maryland—one from St. Mary’s County MD and the other a family from the Eastern shore of Maryland. Interestingly beyond being Maryland based—-both families come from Free people of color, and oddly the descendants had no knowledge of this chapter of their history. I have become quite curious as to why this has escaped the family narrative.

Many who have a legacy of the family having been free, have carried that tradition down from one generation to the next. But the odd phenomenon for me, is to determine how and why the family’s legacy was lost. When families were free and obtained land prior to the Civil War, this is often a family that had certain advantages that other families having been enslaved did not have. How long did their position of advantage last? After the Civil war, did they simply blend into the larger population of color, and become victims then to a system of discrimination based on color? Did class or social status impact their lives?

It is truly amazing for me to take note of as I am working to present part of the family story to the family at both of these reunions.  Now as one who researches families that were enslaved—-I always urge the researcher to determine how freedom came to the family.

Now as one who researches families that were enslaved—-I always urge the researcher to determine how freedom came to the family. Finding that story if it did not survive the family narrative—then to find the stories of freedom from the region—the community, the county—use the resources as they emerge. As Family Search is uploading more and more records from the Freedman’s Bureau—our charge is to examine them—some buried stories are right there.

Also dare to find out if your state had any co-habitation records—-so much rich history is found in those records. No. Carolina had them we know, thanks to Dr. Barnetta McGhee White’s work. But other states did as well. Those hidden boxes in the attics or basement of courthouses are often the very records that hold this data. Time to learn to ask about some of the oldest unused records—and to ask those questions frequently.

As 2015 a milestone year approaches—-let’s awaken the consciousness of each other, of our families, and of the record keepers. There is so much more to find, and so many more stories to tell.

Thank you for listening to me once again when you have many options of how to spend your time. You are appreciated and thanks for sharing what you have. Please continue to do what you do, and keep researching, keep documenting, and always keep sharing what you find.