Angela Y. Walton-Raji on July 3rd, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast

Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast! I can be reached at

4th of July

It is the 4th of July weekend, and I hope that you are getting ready for the time to be spent with family and friends, and are preparing for a wonderful time to make memories! Do be careful as fireworks are going on and please be safe especially with children. I am ready for the weekend, but also getting ready to travel to St. Louis, Missouri next week for MAAGI, the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute. We have an exciting week that is planned and we are all quite excited! This is the third year for MAAGI and popularity for this event is growing. We are even being asked to bring the program on the road! That is something we never imagined and the response has been so positive. Those in the Methods and Strategies track will learn about Dr. Murphy’s “So What” concept! And those who have thought about writing since their research started, the Writing Track will allow people to learn about the many options available to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and to produce something about the research journey! So take a look at the MAAGI line up and perhaps next year MAAGI might be in your plans!


Of course many of us will be looking forward to the AAHGS conference in October in Richmond Virginia. Of course Virginia is where so much of the nation’s history began and the opportunity to go a few days early and conduct some research is quite exciting.

                                                            Discover Freedmen

Are you involved in the indexing project for the Freedmen’s Bureau records? I am speaking about the records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands? I am talking about the indexing initiative launched a few days ago, by Family Search. These records are amazing, and to see them, there are two sites. One is Family Search, and the other site is the Internet Archive. On the Internet Archive I recommend that you type the following words in the search box, to get to your state: “Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands for the state of ____(insert state name)___. On that site, the first 50 pages are so, consist of the Descriptive Pamphlet, that you need to know. The pamphlet will be your guide.

On Family Search, simply go to your state of interest, and click on the bureau records. But keep in mind these are not microfilmed records. But study them anyway. Many of them are not indexed, and you are strongly urged to participate in that initiative. And of course that brings me to the indexing project in general. We need to get them indexed–and your help is needed.

I have found my ancestors, and yes, many of these records are sobering. I have found my gr. grandfather, and I see that at first he was not paid a salary, but was going to receive board, clothing and food rations. But no money. Thankfully that changed within several years, and he later became a land owner himself and he became a homesteader as did his son, Irving. I wrote an article about my find.
You might find that after the war, the newly freed people were placed in the share cropping system, which became a new version of the same thing.

Speaking of involuntary labor, last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show featured Antoinette Harrell, who spoke about 20th century peonage. This was a system of involuntary labor that lasted well into the 20th century. She has spen many years exploring this terrible studying this system. She has even met people trapped in the system well into the second half of the century as well.

Well, I know many of you are in a pre-reunion time. Please remember to tell the story, not just the facts and names. Tell the stories of how the family survived, the stories of their resilience. Reunions are more than good food, and enjoying the music. Make sure the family legacy is preserved.

Well, I am winding it down this week, as I prepare to journey to St. Louis. Have a great week, make some good memories. And remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find!

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on June 26th, 2015

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!