This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well greetings everyone, I hope your week has been good, and I can only say that the past 7 days have produced much genealogy-in-the news all week!

DiscoverFreedomLogoFreedmen’s Bureau Indexing Project

Last week, I know that many of you watched the live video stream coming from California, announcing the Family Search Indexing Initiative for the Freedmen’s Bureau. And as as result many have joined the indexing initiative as well.  I am referring to the digitization of the records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, and the task of indexing the millions of pages that are now online.  Hopefully you will be able to participate in the project.

Here is a link to last week’s events as they unfolded in Los Angeles California. This is the result of a partnership with Family Search, the National Museum of African America History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogy Society, the California African American Museum, and of course the genealogy community. There is a video also describing the importance of the effort to make these records searchable.

As some of you know that my colleague Toni Carrier and I worked together to develop the site Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau. Actually, she provided more of the technical work to get the sites, the field offices of the bureau, pinned to the map. After that we both worked for several weeks–no make that months to get the field offices pinned and later other sites as well. The goal was to assist researchers in learning whether their ancestors lived near a field office, and whether they lived near any of these pre and post-Civil War places of interest—battle sites, the bureau itself, freedman’s bank branches, hospitals and schools. All of these were developed around the same time and served some of the same people. So if your have not taken your research into this direction, visit the maps and see if they were in communities that may have been near your ancestral home. Hopefully these records will help us get past the wall of 1870 where prior to this time, many people actually run out of records. These are the records that will tell us what happened between 1865 and the early 1870s. This will tell us how they lived, how they survived, and how they coped.

The records are amazing as many have pointed out. On my personal blog, I also posted a set of unique records where in western Arkansas, whites and Indians were also recipients of the services of the Freedmen’s bureau. Take a look—we should all consider the value of studying the ancestral community whether our ancestors are there or not. This is still reflecting the same community where they lived.

If you have any challenges while indexing the records, bring this to the attention of the Family Search team. Thom Reed, who is on Facebook is a good contact. There are glitches that have to be worked out, and of course there is the need also to index everyone’s name on those pages.  So please speak up about the indexing project. And share the project with others.


PBS Headline

Well the other story in the news this week has been the story about PBS and their decisions to put Finding Your Roots on hold. This is coming out of the story about Ben Affleck’s request that the program not speak about his ancestor having been a slaveholder. The news came from the decision to put the show on hold after a review.

The story however brings to the front page the structure and content of the genealogy-for-tv programs. We often want to be taken seriously as researchers, and several of us in the blogging community have also addressed errors that we have seen on the PBS program, and the recent issues make us want to take note of what we do and what we can do.

It was technology—a hacking—that brought the story to light. Well, at the same time, other aspects of technology have allowed us to share our voices, our thoughts and our concerns. We have platforms that allow us to express ourselves, and we need to embrace them as tools to speak out. We have the options of social media, online hangouts and blogging, are all tools for us to put our thoughts out there. We have outlets, and we can embrace these issues and become a part of the discussion. And we have opportunities to speak about what we see, and to speak about what is unfolding.

But we shall all be following more of the outcome of the PBS decision. We are all treading new ground with news, with things offered to us, and it is hoped that many of us will embrace and keep moving forward.



The other big buzz word in genealogy is DNA. Well last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s program, Research at the National Archives and Beyond, was amazing! What a great discussion of the autosomal DNA programs, and if you missed it, you need to listen to it. Her guest last night was Diahn Southard. She was honest and frank and spoke of methods of analyzing, but she also addressed expectations and she broke it down. This was an outstanding episode! I appreciated her honesty that I have never heard from DNA gurus out there ever before. She compared the 3 autosomal tests, and the similarities and differences. She did not present the illusion that DNA will open it all up. She was not trying to confuse people of SNPS and snaps and centimorgans etc. She explained them, but she simply spoke plainly about the expectations and realities of testing.  If you missed it, Bernice’s s how airs every Thursday evening at 9pm on Blog Talk Radio.

Well thank you all for tuning in this week, and know that I appreciate your taking you time this week for listening.

(Also accept my apologies for a sound problem that I am having. I hope to have that sound issue resolved in the next few days.)

Please remember to keep researching, and keep sharing what you find!

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