Category Archives: African Roots

African Roots Podcast Episode # 300 January 2, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast



Welcome to this 300th episode of the African Roots Podcast!

A Milestone Episode!
I cannot believe that 300 weeks ago–(that’s almost 6 years ago) I started this weekly podcast, and I am so moved that many of your have stayed with me over the years and I can only thank you for sharing your events, programs and announcements with me, and I am honored to still be here with the podcast ! Thank you all.


Celebrating a Milestone Year!

We have made it this far, and we are still able to tell the story! What am I talking about?  Well, in case you have not noticed we have come upon something really big. This year 2015 is one of those years that should turn heads. You may not hear a little bit about it, but for me, it is significant that we celebrate, and commemorate. Because 150 years ago, the nation changed. Entirely! I wrote about this on my blog yesterday, and I am obligated to share it here, as well. In 1865 the Civil War came to an end. Lee surrendered at Appamatox Courthouse and it was over. But there was so much more to the story.

*In 1865, millions of people were freed found freedom, with the stroke of a pen.
*In 1865 the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery.
Because of the 13th Amendment, the 14th & 15th Amendments would later be ratified.
-The 14th Amendment gave official citizenship to millions of people once enslaved.
-The 15th Amendment would give men once enslaved, the right to vote.
*In 1865, the trajectory of the nation changed forever!

As we go about our own genealogical projects–I urge all in the genealogy community—ALL in the community to explore the Era of Freedom, for this is not a “black thing”, any more than the Civil War was a “white thing.” The nation to which we all belong–became a better nation. And those who profess love for the country, should truly appreciate the time in which the nation became better! Great it may have been, but home it was not for all, until 1865! So how do we honor this year? We honor the year by filling in and actively pursuing those  missing stories.

Slave Ancestry Research
If you research those who were enslaved, then Find the Freedom Story. How did they become un-enslaved? The story lies right there in the same community on the same soil where they were enslaved. Learn the local Civil War history. Research the history of the regiments that were formed in that locale. Find the contraband camps and learn where the inhabitants had come from.

Free people – Black and White
All people of color were not enslaved, and many people white and black were active in the various efforts to bring freedom. Free people of color worked in the anti-slavery movement, and officers of the USCTs were white. Many have never found their own military history as their ancestors who were officers in US Colored Troops have never been pursued. And some of the early teachers in the Freedmen Schools were white teachers who worked to bring literacy.

For All Genealogists: Embrace the Records of Freedom 
Between 1861 and 1868 millions of pages of recording the dismantling of slavery were produced. Some families emancipated themselves and left the moment the opportunity presented itself. Others not enslaved were involved with the initiating of freedom. These stories can be found in the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Freedman’s Savings Bank, early Voter Records and so much more.

For Black researchers there are pages where marriages were recorded for the first time. And there are records where a working wage was paid for the first time. For white researcher, there are records of the slave holder, who had to agree to the labor contract and  how much was going to pay the workers for the first time. These records should not be overlooked—it is a part of history—and the history belongs to all of us. And for many white southerners here is another long-forgotten story from the Civil War—many whites were recipients of rations provided by the Freedmen’s Bureau, and they too have their names, recorded. In some places more whites than blacks appear on the pages of Bureau records.

More and more of these records are coming to light as they are digitized. But the fact is many researchers have no idea if there was even a branch of the Freedmen’s Bureau in their ancestral community. And so many Freedom Era Institutions appeared on the landscape that were never there before. Some examples:

*Freedmen’s Bureau Fields Offices
*Freedman Savings & Trust Branches
*Freedmen Schools
*Freedmen Hospitals
*Freedmen Contraband Camps
*Civil War USCT Battle Sites

Well one no longer has to guess as to where these places were. A new interactive guide is being launched today.

Announcing a New Online Guide
for Freedom Era Research

MapHeadMapping the Freedman’s Bureau

The purpose  is to assist you in finding the location of the various Freedom Era Freedman’s Bureas field offices, that may have served your ancestors. Or you may have had ancestors who actually staffed the offices created during this time.

  • Locate the Freedmen’s Bureau field office nearest your area of research interest There are a number of offices in each state. Use the map to see if an office existed in your ancestral community
  • Find the microfilms online, if they are digitized, we have a notation on where to find the digitized site.  The two sites are to be found at Family Search, and the Internet Archive.
  • Start reading!

Use the maps to find a Field Office, use the maps to find Freedman Savings’s Bank
Use the maps to see where Black soldiers were engaged in battle.
Use the maps to see if there were notable contraband camps in your area.
Use the maps to learn about Freedmen schools and Freedmen hospitals.

If your ancestors lived near these sites,  you will find that you can glean more information about your ancestors. What an honor to work with Toni Carrier on this site. Let us know know what you think and let us hear from you. This has been a true labor of love, and we are launching this site today! This  site, I hope will assist you in putting your ancestors back on the historical landscape where they lived. And we hope that you will explore these records on both Family Search and the Internet Archive. 

Speaking of Family Search, I urge you to listen to Bernice Bennett’s show. Last night’s guests were representatives from Family Search. The guests discussed new changes, and also the records that come from the Freedom Era including the records of the Bureau, and the records of the Freedman’s Savings, which were once only accessible on a CD. Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9 pm EST, on Blog Talk Radio. 

In the meantime, thank you all once again for being regular listeners, and know that you are appreciated. And as  you work to tell the Freedom Era story, remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find.

African Roots Podcast Episode #299 December 26, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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


Well hello everyone! Compliments of the season! I hope you are well and are now in the midst of post-Christmas euphoria! I do hope that you had a good day with family and loved ones. A special hello and warm wishes to everyone from west coast to the east coast, to family and friends Florida to Freetown Sierra Leone. Special wishes to family and friends in Nigeria, and to a dear soul I know in Sierra Leone where they have had many health challenges as a pandemic has affected them so dramatically. Treasure that time with others, and also treasure that quiet time where one can be reflective and appreciate life.

I hope that many of you made some special memories took pictures, and enjoyed the opportunity to fellowship with one another as well.


Now–we are winding down with 2014 and we are moving quickly to a brand new year! What kind of projects lie ahead for you? Some of you are participating in a genealogy do-over, and for me, this is a great time to review all that we have. And now with digitization we can all try to trim down the excess. This is a wonderful time to review what we have. I also want to encourage people to take some projects in a new direction. This is a time to teach others how to conduct sound research. And for me, more importantly, to teach others that they have a story to tell, and encourage them to tell that story!


MAAGI 2015 SaveThe Date

This coming week, more details about MAAGI will be shared and info about the speakers and tracks. Go ahead and save the dates, July 7 – 9th. That is the week after the 4th of July holiday. There will be a new track in writing, and some assistance in getting the story told. I think that many genealogists have it finding a way to make the data that we find interesting enough for others to hear. Many of us have family that will not be excited that we have found something. I have found however, that many are excited, and to get their hands of “the family book” that someone has put together on the family history. But when they see the book what they find is basically a “directory” of photos and names, but not pieces that inspire or that touch the heart of the readers. So hopefully some will join us in the new writing track!


Emancipation Image Harpers Image by Thomas Nast,  Courtesy Library of Congress, Harper’s Weekly, 1863

Well, we are on the eve of the sesquicentennial of the  year of Freedom! 2015 will be the 150th anniversary of freedom that came to those once enslaved. We must understand that the nation changed! The Civil War ended, 4 million people were freed from bondage, and 4 million people became citizens. The entire country was affected. The most powerful nation in the world h had an economy based on a product–cotton–from the south and based on an unpaid labor force. We have never looked at the impact of what that meant. It would take years before change would take effect. But–for many of our families—they could marry who they wished, and they could now go and find lost relatives who had been sold away. They could walk on the roads. Imagine the shock of the local population that forbade the movement  of black people freely on the roads. And yes, they took to the roads!!!  What an incredible time! Record Group 105 contain millions of pages that reflect this freedom!

And this is an American record set–people of every color are contained in Freedmen’s Bureau  records. One will find people who were Black, white and also Native Americans from Indian Territory!

So yes, this is the time to honor that beginning!



It is imperative that I mention the Indexing Project. Please join that effort to index these records. The sooner we get this inexed we will assist genealogists, historians, preservationists and more. The NMAACH (National Museum of African American History and Culture) has partnered with Family Search to get these records indexed! Please assist to get the indexing completed.



How do you all plan to celebrate Freedom? I hope that the significance of this milestone year will be understood and honored throughout the genealogy community and that you will join me, in this endeavor to honor those who survived and those upon whose shoulder we stand.


As we wind down this podcast and wind down this year, please know that I have appreciated you all this past year, and I wish you the best for this coming new year!

Make a promise and commitment to keep sharing, keep documenting, and to keep sharing what you find!  Happy New Year everyone!