This Week's Pod Cast


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

Hard to believe this is the last weekend in July! Hope the summer is going well for all of you. This week two databases were shared that will be of interest to African American researchers.

First one is out of the state of Illinois: The Servitude and Emancipation Database:

Coming from Illinois is an amazing database called Illinois Servitude and Emancipation Records. This comes from the Archivist Jesse White of the state of Illinois. This is a searchable database of over 3400 names of people both enslaved and emancipated in the state of Illinois from 1722 to 1863. This covers the following counties in Illinois: Bond, Edwards, Gallatin, Madison, Massac, Pope, Randolph, St. Clair, and Union. The document types are Bills of Sale, Birth, Census, Divorce, Donation, Emancipation, Estate, Guardianship, Indenture, Inventory, Lease, Marriage, Mortgage, Registration, Will, and a category called “Other” which includes receipts, contracts, runaway slave ads, and more.

Note this is a database and not a site with digitized images. But for those with strong ties to Illinois this could be very useful, indeed!


A shout out to the City of Ft. Smith Arkansas. The Lincoln HS Alumni presents an all years reunion, and homecoming this weekend. This is really a homecoming weekend for the entire city–whether you attended the school or not. This is a homecoming celebration for the city! Also there will be a special dedication of a Memorial Bench in  honor of Dr. H. P. McDonald who was the city’s only African American doctor for many decades. He was deeply respected and he passed away about 2 years ago. I know that some of the McDonald family will be in Ft. Smith at the dedication at Elm Grove Park as well. So a shout out to everyone going home to celebrate the city’s history and rich legacy and make some new memories this weekend.


Indexing Continues with the Freedman’s Bureau.

The Indexing Project 

The Indexing project on Family Search continues and I hope that you are all involved in assisting the effort to index the records of the Freedman’s Bureau. Note that this project stems from a partnership between the Smithsonian African American Museum that will open up in 2015 and Family Search. This project will take many months to complete, but with the help of volunteers, from around the world, we might get this critical record set completed much sooner! So please get involved. I hope that many of you were able to participate in the world-wide indexing weekend last week, but anytime is a good time to join the effort!


It was shared with me this week, that the Tennessee State Archives has an extensive Bible collection that is digitized on their site. This is  a searchable database with actual images of the family data from hundreds of family Bibles that they have in their collections. What makes this unique is that there are Bibles that rest in numerous collections—and they have compiled them to make a unique digital collection. Of interest to African American researchers is that for some of the prominent wealthy Tennessee persons, some of their bible entries contain the names of slaves. So take a look and hopefully one might find ancestors among the pages digitized.



WDYTYA Unfolds with African American Watch Party on AfriGeneas

Well we all watched Who Do You Think You Are, on the AfriGeneas community this week. We joined in the chat center on and we signed into the chat room WDYTYA, we shared our thoughts as the story unfolded. The story of Cynthia Nixon’s broadcast was a sad story of her ancestor. As we watched the show we shared our opinions about the story of Martha, the guest’s ancestor. Well I noted from a Twitter feed, that the book that was shared about Cynthia Nixon’s ancestor, was written by an abolitionist. That was why he was imprisoned. Now as one who has an interest in the history of enslaved people and those who worked for their freedom. The story did arouse some curiosity about this man. Can more be learned about him? Can more be learned about abolitionist history in Missouri? The story stimulated some interest among some Missouri researchers to learn more about abolitionist activities of the time.

Then there was the follow up re-broadcast of the epidosde with the Matthew Broderick, and in that episode, his Civil War ancestor’s story unfolded. And the fact came out that his ancestor was reburied, and we saw him trying hard to process what he was hearing and learning about his own Civil War past. Ironically Mr. Broderick in the movie Glory played a white solider who was the officer in charge of the Massachusetts’s Colored Infantry, Robert Gould Shaw.  In this re-run, of WDYTYA, we heard the story of the re-burial of his Civil War ancestor to a national cemetery. Well, in a follow up conversation with another genealogists, I was reminded of the famous image of the men who actually reburied these solders at Gettysburg. The irony of the story of Robert Gould Shaw and his relationship with the soldiers of the 54th, Massachusetts Colored Infantry was clear. Shaw was also buried in a mass grave with those black soldiers with whom he fought. But there is more irony in that there is a famous image of the men of color, that actually buried the men who were moved to the National Cemetery.  So quite possibly his real Civil War ancestor may have been buried by men of color. Of course many men were most likely involved in that process of reburial, but I have wondered if some of those men of color may have buried Matthew Broderick’s ancestor.

But all to simply say that we all had a good time Wednesday and later Thursday in various conversations discussing the “back stories” to the episodes that aired.

Source of Image 



I hope you caught Bernice Bennett’s show last night.  Her guest was Dr. Dorothy Roberts who discussed a unique perspective on race and how so many policies have been based on things that are not entirely biological. A fascinating conversation unfolded. So you can download the show from ITunes or listen to it directly from the site. The show airs every week on at 9pm EST.


Well time is running out and I know you are all busy–some at reunions, cookouts, homecoming celebrations and more. So thank you for taking time from your busy day to tune in again this week. In the meantime–enjoy the great weather, and remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!


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