Category Archives: African Roots

African Roots Podcast Episode #268 May 23rd, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well the summer season is beginning with this weekend–Memorial Day weekend being the kick off to the summer season! And, I hope that you will take some time to appreciate the history of this holiday. Today we honor the men and women who lost their lives in distant lands in times of war. However, many of us have memories of “Decoration Day” when families would make a trip to the family burial ground and tend to the graves of loved ones who had departed this life. But how many of you have a knowledge of the real origins of Decoration Day?

Well the day has its origins with former slaves in Charleston South Carolina. In early May of 1865, former slaves by the thousands to honor and commemorate the death of Union soldiers, and to celebrate their own freedom.

It is said that close to 10,000 people, including children marched through Charleston to give thanks and to honor the fallen.

Through the years the holiday has spread nationally and is now a federal holiday. For decades many families would visit cemeteries on this holiday, tend to the graves, and have an outdoor picnic for the day. Today the day has morphed into a nationwide time to commemorate the role of veterans who served in both domestic and foreign wars. I hope that you will all honor your own ancestors on this holiday weekend, and will also revel in the summer season that has arrived and it is time to enjoy family, enjoy your legacy and make some memories!


Memorial Day Weekend Brings Free Access to Records!

My Heritage  has announced that through this weekend starting today through May 26th there will be free access to their military collections! A special page has been created so that you may view their military collections online. This is a good opportunity to learn more about what My Heritage is all about if you are not familiar with it.


Earliest Birth Records from New Jersey were Slave Births

New Jersey Slave Birth Documents

Judy Russel the Legal Genealogist has made an interesting discovery that she shared on her blog. Possibly the earliest birth records have been found! These come from the early 1800s as early as 1804.  And they reflect the births of children born to women who were enslaved! You must read this article!

Quoting from her blog, she explains, “…that very earliest set of New Jersey birth records are the children of New Jersey slaves, born into freedom, under New Jersey law.”

This is incredible information to learn about and apparently this was not widely known by researchers, she shared with her readers this week! What a find! AND at least one of the New Jersey county records of these require slave births are digitized! (see them HERE.)

Special thanks to Judy Russell for sharing this information!!


 Well I have also had an amazing week—-I had an interesting experience following up on a story told to me about my gr. grandmother. The story was that she was invited to visit France, all expenses paid to visit her son’s grave who had died in France in World War I.  This inspired me to conduct some research, to see what I could find out!! Well—-I got more than I bargained for! It was truly an amazing find–I learned about the Gold Star mothers–the African American Gold Star mothers and I learned of their invitation to France, the saga of their journey in a Jim Crow system, and I learned of their experiences while in France.

The story is on my blog and is found HERE. 


Speaking of World War I, last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show featured a woman who has researched the little known history of the 371st Infantry of World War I. Her guest was Sonya Hodges, and her second guest was Douglas Culbreth. Both of them spoke about this little known regiment that served in France and was highly decorated in France for their service with the French Army in the Great War.

Ms. Hodges spoke about many accomplishments of that unit and she spoke also of artifacts that she has obtained and collected over the years. She also mentioned that there is a flag of this unit that is housed in , of all places a Confederate room of a museum in So. Carolina. Why the flag of these men of color, is held by people who adore the southern confederacy and all that it stands for, and that is not clearly understood.  But the show was interesting nevertheless, and the work of Mrs. Hodges is certainly to be admired. Tune in if you missed the episode last night on Blog Talk Radio.


Remember that the deadlines are quickly approaching for Roots Tech 2015 and FGS 2015 so get yours in in the next few days!


Unavoidable Realities of Southern Research

About a week ago, Cheri Hudson Passey a blogger with SC roots wrote a very moving piece about researching southern ancestors. Her piece is called, Research In The South: The Unavoidable Realities”

I mention this because of the fact that her topic is one that is not addressed enough by southern states based researchers. She discussed a plantation which her family owned over the years. And she addressed the one subject that needs to be addressed for southerners. People enslaved worked in the estate house the fields and provided the labor that sustained them. And old papers from these estates contain the names of the “servants” and these are the people that we seek.  The only way that we can find them, is for those engaged in southern research, to share those plantation ledgers, wills, probate records and so much more. And more importantly—the grounds—including the slave cemeteries should be preserved.


The discussion about sharing slave data brings up another issue of the intense need for genealogists of all background to share. I appreciate the fact that not only did  Cheri Passey address the issue, of sharing the names of slaves, but how do we get others out there—and they are there by the thousands to see the critical need of putting this information in the public arena? There needs to be a way for all persons to open up–and put it as it is found out there. We have a few women who have heard that call on Facebook and I commend them. Anne Mulligan and Sandy Mudd are sharing information and others are joining that effort.  Another writer has addressed the lives of slaves who lived upon her own family estate, Andrea Cuomo, in her book The Slaves Have Names. We need more of this kind of consciousness, and I hope that this is a trend that will continue.

Well, thank you again for tuning in and for listening, and I hope that you will enjoy this holiday weekend and kick off the summer season in a memorable way. And do remember to honor someone and have a great Decoration Day!

And remember to keep research, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!


African Roots Podcast Episode #267 May 16th, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome to the African Roots Podcast! Remember you can reach me at


The Abolitionsist’s Children’s Primer

Sometimes it is good to revisit old sites. This is a fascinating primer that I noticed some time ago and still find it fascinating. It is an alphabet primer, but the letters of the alphabet are based on topics with an anti-slavery theme. This fascinating document is housed at the Mississippi State Archives, but it is also digitized online and it is one of those rare gems that one finds in state archives and among their digitized collection.  Take a look at this primer and it something to appreciate and to share.


Researchers Sought for Black Revolutionary Patriots

Friends of Minute Man Project

In New England there is a Minute Man National Park and the Friends of Minute Man, a group based in Massachusetts, is looking for a researcher to explore the history of Patriots who were men of color during the years of the America Revolution. There are some specific questions to be addressed in the project. Among some of the questions are:

  • How many men of color from Massachusetts who fought in the American Revolution were free?
  • How many men of color from Massachusetts who fought in the American Revolution were enslaved?
  • Were those who were enslaved during their enlistment emancipated because of their military service? and many more questions.

There is a short window for this project as the deadline is May 30th, so only a few weeks remain to be considered. The payment for the researcher is $2000 and if you are interested instructions are found in the PDF Download HERE. You can also contact the project directors HERE.


Deadlines approaching for Calls for Papers!

A reminder that the month of May and June are deadline months for those of you considering presenting at either Roots Tech, FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies), or both. Remember that both conferences will converge upon Salt Lake City in February of 2015 and that promises to be a milestone year for so many reasons, so I hope that you will look at the requirements for presenting at both conferences.


Yearning for a Sense of Belonging, History and Unity


Last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s Blog Radio program was quite good. Her guest was David Wellington who shared his personal experience as he was able to research his family history and document his Civil War ancestor, Frank Worthington. His journey was one that reminds older researchers of the joy of making that first discovery when you see the ancestor’s name in the record for the first time. He spoke about how he shared this information with the family, and how we was able to transform mere data into an experience that could be embraced by the entire extended family and across the generations.  His work turned into a family book, a dramatic stage production, and how now the reunions are not simply folks mixing and eating together, but a true celebration of who they are and their history.

The episode is in two parts, as a thunderstorm interrupted the broadcast, for a few moments but in part 2 Mr. Wellington spoke about the need for healing–and understanding a sense of worth coming from one’s history! It is a story of empowerment. Tune in to listen to this story on Blog Talk Radio. Remember to hear both parts—and appreciate the work conducted by this researcher and how it has helped him to heal. Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm on Blog Talk Radio.


Got Genealogy Hosts Technology Retreat


Lisa Lee of Northern California and host of has announced a new technology retreat, to assist genealogists with coming up to par in the technology world. This is a five day intense workshop with one on one attention by Ms. Lee who is a I.T. specialist by profession. The workshop begins next week, so register while you can!  More on the 5 day workshop can be found on her website, Got Genealogy. 


Well thank you all for listening this week as I know you are all busy and involved in multiple projects. Stay focused on what you are doing and remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!