African Roots Podcast Episode #301 January 9, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast! You can always reach me HERE.

Welcome to Episode #301 and it is great to be here after an amazing week! As you know, last week was the 300th consecutive episode of the Podcast, and also last week was the launching of a new website called Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau.

Well, since that time it has been amazing to hear from so many people who have found that their ancestors lived near a Field office of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105.  We have higlighted Field Offices, Hospitals, Schools, USCT Battle sites. I hope that you will look at the maps and see if your ancestors could have used these post Civil War, institutions. I hope that you will visit the site if you have not already done so!



And last night, both Toni Carrier, co-creator and myself were able to be guests on Bernice Bennett’s show, Research At the National Archives and Beyond. Tune into the show if you missed it. Her show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm.



And February is approaching fast, and workshops have been planned. For those in the greater Washington DC area, a free all-day African American Genealogy Conference will unfold at the Family History Center in Laurel MD.  There is an impressive list of speakers and I hope that you will attend if you are within driving distance of the greater Washington Area. Other events are unfolding from Atlanta to Arkansas and points beyond, so the year is off to a very busy start!

Don’t forget to look at social media. I encourage you all to explore the Facebook group that focuses on the US Colored Troops (USCT) and their history. And note–a lot of genealogists are participating in a Genealogy “Do Over”.

This effort is good time to review what you have, see if it is coherent, and clear to a stranger that the papers are worth keeping and not tossing? Join it on Facebook and see what others are doing to preserve, enhance, and improve or even streamline what they have.


The recurring theme that you will hear from me will be Freedom. Do you know your ancestor’s Freedom Story? I hope that many of you will be trying to find it, and will be making the effort to tell this missing part of the family story.

Well, thank you again for listening, and know that you are appreciated so much.  In the meantime, please remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!

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.