African Roots Podcast Episode #305 February 6, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well it’s finally here–welcome to African American History Month, 2015. This is doubly important, for this is a milestone year. Let us keep in mind that it has been 150, since Freedom came to millions of people, and only 50 years since so many people gained other privileges of citizenship. So many things to commemorate and so many things to do. This also begins a marathon of speaking engagements that I have coming up.


Tomorrow at the African American Genealogy Conference will take place at the Family History Center in Laurel MD on Contee Road. The event will focus on Slavery Era, Cluter Genealogy Slave Index, Finding Maiden Names, Civil War Widows Pension and so much more.

Roots Tech is next week,and they are joining forces with the Federation of Genealogical Societies in Salt Lake City. More than 15000 people will be in attendance. This is quite exciting and I look forward to meeting people, and learning from them. Don’t forget the chance to catch some of the live video streams that you will be able to watch.

If you missed last night’s show produced by Bernice Bennett. Her guest Carol Hector-Harris has researched her history to a free person of color. She also took a DNA test and had a chance to learn that one of her lines came from the Ga-Adangbe people. She traveled to Ghana and had a chance meeting with someone who was Ga-Adangbe and she had an amazing experience. In addition, her ancestor from Africa was also a Revolutionary War patriot. She was so enthusiastic, and her explanation was almost an emotional one. It might inspire many others to look into their own history. There were also quite a few callers on the show, who wanted to share their interest and applaud her success. Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening on Blog Talk Radio. You can listen to the archived broadcast if you missed it.


The Call for Papers for the 36th Annual AAHGS Conference is now out! This a great chance to make a contribution to the genealogy community by presenting your work at this event. The dates are October 15th – 17th in Richmond Virginia. The theme is “Virginia, Where African American Roots Run Deep.” The deadline is due on March 15th.

Fold 3 is making the entire African American Collection for free during African-American History month. Take a look–data from all over the country, and you will be astounded at the vastness of this collection. Records that pertain to the slave ship Amistad, are in the collection. There are other records to explore–Civil War service records of the USColored Troops. Anti-Slavery records, emancipation records and so many more. So take a look at this collection.


New Film reflects the saga of Cherokee Freedmen
Last weekend, those in the San Diego area got a chance to the the new documentary, “By Blood” that depicts the story of the Cherokee Freedmen. The film was released at the Southern California Black Films Festival. This story reflects the vary complicated saga of the descendants of those once enslaved in the Cherokee Nation. Hopefully this film will be distributed widely.

Well, time to wind things down for this week. I am excited about upcoming events and hope to see some of you tomorrow, and some of you in Salt Lake City! Thank you for listening. In the meantime, remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find.

African Roots Podcast Episode #304 January 30, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to this week’s episode of the African Roots Podcast!
Remember you can always reach me at


I hope everyone in the northeast have been able to stay safe, warm and dry. In the mid-Atlantic we have had some wintry mix of snow, sleet, and rain, but thankfully no ice. Those farther north however have had a real challenge with heavy snow–I hope that you are been able to stay safe and warm and will be able to dig out easily.



Wow end of the first month of 2015 and we are about to slip into Black History Month! Remember that this is a milestone year–and if you have not found your own family’s story of freedom, this 150th anniversary of freedom from enslavement is a great time to start. Note that Family Search is still uploading more Freedmen’s Bureau records. Louisiana researchers have great access to now to these amazing records, including the Fields Offices. This is a great way to find out what happened in those critical  years between slavery and the first 1870 census for so many. So follow those footprints who used the Bureau to receive rations, who lived in contrabands, who were patients in hospitals, students in schools. Also note that many whites can find their ancestors in these records as well.

Finding the “Patsys” in Our Family


We are reminded about what life was like from films such as 12 Years a Slave. Questions have been asked by researchers, “what happened to Patsy”? Well we all have our “Patsys” to find. So many have heartache, and many can be found in Freedmen’s Bureau records, and their stories are there. The Bureau records can find many of those first- days- of-freedom stories. Let’s commit to finding our own Patsy–the woman who suffered physical, emotional heartbreak–whose spirits were shattered by a heinous system. Use Mapping The Freedmen’s Bureau, to see what post emancipation institutions to see if your ancestors or their neighbors used the resources of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands.
A Thought for Slavery Era Researchers

We often think about simply plowing through records without regard to the stage of history in which records came. Dr. Ira Berlin spoke about the Atlantic Era of Enslavement, when everyone was still experiencing life through their original Atlantic coast culture. Whether they were whites who were immigrants from Europe, or Africans who survived the horrifics of the Atlantic slave ship, they saw themselves when they arrived as the citizen of that east-of-the-Atlantic land of origin.   That was followed by the later deeply established Plantation Era, that solidified the rigidity of America’s story of bondage. The enslaved became removed by generations from their east-of-the-Atlantic origins and suddenly only had America in their memory. They now had to live by the well established plantation culture that had replaced their east-of-the-Atlantic original culture. Perhaps as we learn about the lives of people in the 19th and 18th centuries we have to learn the differences in the kinds of records that these periods produced.
Reflections from the Road Show

Have you been able to watch episodes of the Genealogy Roadshow? It has been interesting to watch. I found it fascinating to see how many people were asking if they were related to historical figures from pirates to Vikings. But this week there was the very sobering story of the family that suddenly left the state of  South Carolina and migrated to Pennsylvania. This story was like so many stories of “sudden migration”. I use that term to describe  the stories of those who had to immediately vacate their land, to be able to continue to live. Usually this came from a lynching, or in some places a story of an entire community being destroyed. Places like Rosewood Florida, Pierce City Missouri, Harrison Arkansas, Catcher Arkansas, Forsythe County Georgia, and more. In these cases, entire communities of people were forced to simply leave. Often such cases were stimulated by lynching or an accusation of  rape or murder–and entire communities were simply erased. It was good that the episode addressed this story that had happened to this family. But we in the African American community know that this story happened in many places, and it should be a part of the narrative.  A critical question arises, “does this kind of story make the researcher weary at times?” Yes, it does and one has to find a balance and yes, take a physical and often a mental break to continue to research. The farther back in time that we go, the more difficult these stories become and the more frequent that heartache was for those who had to endure them.

And as researchers we have to make a transition from being a mere collector of names to that of a storyteller, and to see that as our mission. Family members who often show disinterest, will listen when you when you share the stories. If you tell it, they will listen.


AfriGeneas Banner

Time to Re-Visit the AfriGeneas Community. There is the AfriGeneas Facebook page with more than 126,000 “Likes”. There is also the AfriGeneas Community Group where there is activity where members ask questions, get assistance and share. This is a very dynamic community. And for those who love biographies, and beautiful vintage images of amazing African ancestored people. And of course there is the basic page–the home base, the AfriGeneas website. I think you should revisit this time tested site. Also please remember to connect with others in the many African American genealogy Facebook groups including an active DNA group as well.


DNA Specialist Featured on Research and the National Archives & Beyond
Last night’s guest on Bernice Bennett’s show was David Dowell, who is a DNA specialist. He discussed the various tests, and he also addressed the meaning of terms that can be confusing to newcomers. Some wonderful information was shared on last night’s episode. All of her shows are archived as a podcast and can be downloaded easily. Of course the live show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm on Blog Talk Radio.

Well time is going quickly and I am in a pre-conference preparation mode these days.  For the next three weekends, I have tons of things to do, miles to cover and workshops to present. Thank you all for tuning in again. I hope to see some of you next week in Laurel MD at hte Family History Center African American Genealogy Conference.

Keep researching, keep documenting, and remember to keep sharing what you find.