Angela Y. Walton-Raji on July 31st, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to this week’s episode of the African Roots Podcast! You can reach me, at African Roots Podcast.


A warm shout out to people who are attending family reunions this weekend, as August is here tomorrow. A particular shout out to the Atlas Family that had an amazing reunion last week. Lots of photos on Facebook with them. And a special shout out, to the Taylor Family of Rocky Mount North Carolina. This family has had family reunions consecutively for the past 64 or so years, and it is amazing. I attended their 50th anniversary reunion and it was a wonderful experience. They had the traditional Friday evening fish fry and the Saturday banquet, so best wishes to them this weekend!
FTM Best Websites2015

So excited to share with you that the Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau project has been named as one of the 101 Top Genealogy Websites. The site is less than a year old and Toni Carrier and myself are honored to see that our work reflecting Record Group 105 has been honored. The Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau was created to give researchers a tool to help determine whether ancestors lived near a bureau which was really part of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. We looked at the critical years between 1865 and the early 1870s and the he bureau is amazing in terms of the types of records need to be investigated. There are marriage records, marriage ledgers, contracts, employer-employee rosters and so much more. These records answer so many questions for all of us and they give us a glimpse into what really happened. I hope therefore that you will use Mapping The Freedmen’s Bureau

The site was expanded to include other facilities beyond the Field offices of the Bureau. We have included the Freedmen’s Bank, the hospitals, and did your ancestors have children who attended freedmen schools? Take a look at the site and see if it can help you. And a special thanks to Family Tree Magazine for the honor.


Today at 2:00 pm Eastern time, you can listen to Melvin Collier on Legacy Family Tree Webinars. This is part of the Freedom series, that are offered by FamilyTreeWebinars. Melvin’s topic is Reconstructing Family Trees that were Sawed by Slavery. He is the author of Mississippi to Africa, and 150 Years Later, a Family Reunited. He is an excellent presenter. With Melvin, you will find that he is an excellent presenter, an excellent teacher, and you will learn a lot from him.


Are you indexing? I am referring to the on-going indexing project. If the 1940 census was indexed in less than 2 years, then we can get the Freedmen’s Bureau indexed. All people are asked to join this amazing effort. The records are truly something to explore. One kind of record set that is not often metnioned are the requests to reclaim children. The Freedmen’s Bureau had to intervene to retrieve over 3000 children to have them returned to their parents.

To learn more about this–last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show featured Judy Russell, who mentioned the situation of the children seized by former slave holders.  This was truly interesting. As you know Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm eastern time, on Blog Talk Radio.



Well there is a new book that you need to have. Well—Robyn Smith a highly skilled genealogist has published a new book. It is called “The Best of Reclaiming Kin” .  Ms. Smith has taken her blog and turned it into a very useful book. It is a large sized book–over 200 pages. I have to commend her for what she has done, and she has done an amazing job. Her index is full and very useful. A good index makes a work like this particularly useful. You need to have this book in your collection.

And–do you have your own blog? Well, perhaps you may want to put the blog now on paper, and Robyn Smith’s book is a great model for you to follow. Look at what she has done. The value of putting it on paper is enormous. We know that many in our own circle are not blog savvy. Well by putting it on paper, she will be able to share with more readers. You can get copies from Reclaiming Kin.



August is here, and it is time for me to re-read one of my favorite books–Somerset Homecoming. I find this memoir of Dorothy Spruill Redford’s research journey always refreshing and inspiring. I keep this book on my annual TBR list (“To-Be-Read”).

Thank you for taking time out to listen to my podcast, and know that you are appreciated. In the meantime, have a great week, and remember to keep researching, keep documented and to keep sharing what you find.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on July 24th, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well summer is moving along quickly and finally the rains have stopped for a while and we are getting lovely dry weather here on the east coast. I do realize though that our friends and family in the far west have not had much rain at all, and hope that the on going drought will let us soon.

Claims Index Heading

Well here is some good news!  Yesterday I learned about the Social Security Death Claims index. Well as you know that there were many restrictions that were made in recent years about the Social Security death index, the SSDI. It turns out that now, on Ancestry that there is an interesting claims index available.

This pulls up information that we as genealogists seek. The names of parents of the applicants of deceased ancestors.  This is called the Social Security and Claims Index 1936-2007. I was delighted to see that it truly pulled up the names of the parents–which is what we are seeking. (I have blocked out the full names for family privacy.)

Claims Index

This is worth exploring and hopefully you will find it useful.


Obituary Photo Agnes

Remembering a Mentor, Teacher and Friend Agnes Kane Callum

This week the genealogy community lost a giant in the field. Dr. Agnes Kane Callum passed away this week due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease. Dr. Callum was a pioneer in the African American genealogy community and she is one whose shoes cannot be filled.

Born in Baltimore, Agnes Callum began researching her own family history over 30 years ago. Her research on her enslaved ancestors on Sotterley plantation in southern Maryland is immeasurable. Her work bringing the story of Irish Nell – Eleanor Butler, an Irish indentured servant, and her marriage to Negro Charles, brought to light the occurrence of many indentured women who met, and married Negro men in Colonial America.

Her work to restore the slave cabin at Sotterley plantation, is a model for many to follow. At the same time, her work to preserve the legacy of the United States Colored Troops has inspired many of us to find the Civil war ancestor in our own lines.

I met Agnes Callum in the spring on 1991, at a genealogy meeting in Baltimore. At that time she was publishing her yearly journal, Flower of the Forrest, A Black Genealogical Journal. During those years, she was steadily researching African American history of St. Mary’s County Maryland, and expanded her focus to include other parts of Maryland as well. She inspired all of use who met her, and I owe much of my own work to the model that she presented. She saw the value of looking at the larger picture, and sharing much more beyond the confines of one’s own single family. She saw the value of the community having a story and needing to have it’s voice, long silenced, be heard.  I value the lessons that I learned and owe so much of my work, to her and her insistence to put something down on paper.

She has left an amazing legacy, and we can only be grateful that we were honored to have been influenced by her. We shall miss her, but her legacy will continue.

God speed, dear teacher, and dear friend.


On that note, I shall close out a bit early this week. I hope you have a good weekend, good week of research, and remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find.