African Roots Podcast Episode #293 November 14, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well fall has really settled in and in fact many of the leaves have already falled from the trees, and I understand that a few places even got snow yesterday. I do hope that you are staying safe and warm, and are getting ready to settle in for the winter.

CenterBlackGenealogyCenter for Black Genealogy

 Just a warm shout out to those who attended the fundraising event this week in Chicago. This event was sponsored by the Center for Black Genealogy.  I look forward to hearing more about this group and the what might be unfolding through their efforts. Such as center is needed, and a forum, place, facility for African American genealogy is a great idea, so as their effort develop, I hope that we can all be supporters of such an organization. I hope it was successful!



Friends of Haven of Rest

Cemetery Preservation Work Continues
This year I have been following the work by groups restoring and preserving African  American burial grounds. I still hear from friends in Little Rock Arkansas who are working digligently to preserve historic Haven of Rest Cemetery in Little Rock. I have ancestors buried there and hope that they will continue their work. But this is a sample of work being done in multiple cities throughout the country. I know that Zion Cemetery in Memphis has been the effort of cemetery preservation work, and also Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Baltimore is another one. These burial grounds should be considered sacred places and if you can assist, please do. As winter approaches I know that the best opportunity arises to conduct some preservation work. And right after the first killing frost, the burial ground is safer–as ticks, and snakes especially will no longer be a threat, so lots of work to clear excess brush can unfold. So support your own local group where you can, for these places are indeed sacred ground and it is our obligation to see that the remains of our ancestors are properly protected.



Google + Hangout Unfolds

For the second time African American Genealogists were able to join the fun in a Google Hangout and exchange thoughts and ideas with each other. Nicka Smith developed the idea and this week’s discussion was Finding Offline Resources for African American Genealogy. The discussion was a healthy one on how essential courthouses and vital records offices, and university collections and archival holdings are for research. We are all creatures of habit and use the online databases like Family Search and Ancestry, and there is a concern that beginners will think that everything is online. So far–that is not the case, and it is really critical that those facilities are still considered “must visit” repositories in our genealogical documentation process. Hopefully more Google + Hangouts will be scheduled over the next several weeks.



An interview with author of Back There, Then

I encourage you all to tune in if you missed last night’s guest on Bernice Bennett’s show, who was Linda Crichlow White who published the memoir of  her mother Marietta Stevens Crichlow. The book came from having discovered a manuscript that Marietta, her mother had written about her own life. The manuscript was found long with hundreds of photos and letters that went back over a century. She turned these wonderful photos, letters and stories from her mother into the wonderful book, Back There, Then. This is the kind of story that should inspire all of us to not only treasure the artifacts that we find, but to turn them into something! Writing those stories, not just collecting them and storing them, is something essential. You will enjoy hearing the story of how Ms. Crichlow White was able to put the book together, and hear about the treasures that she found. Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening at 9pm on Blog Talk Radio.



DNA & Your Genealogy

Speaking of Bernice Bennett, if you are in the Central Maryland area, you may be interested in attending the Central MD Chapter of AAHGS at the Owen Brown Community Center in Columbia MD. Bernice will be speaking about DNA and Genealogy. You know DNA can be a useful tool, for genealogists, and for many it can be away to solve some family mysteries. Of course DNA should not be considered a short cut to the genealogical process, but it can, for some, be a valuable tool to find out unknown information. I know that Bernice has a unique story as she continues to find matches all the time with DNA–and she has found close cousins who were previously unknown.

Now I have personally never had such luck, but my own families were enslaved in small rural communities. They were among the millions who were sold south. And almost every generation ended up in a different place. So I know that I will never find many or any matches that can be solved. But I know that Bernice has a number of DNA cousins who especially come out of a larger community–New Orleans, and sh has found 1st and 2nd cousins and been able to solve the mystery of how they were related. So I think many will enjoy hearing about her successes, so if you can make the meeting at 1pm tomorrow, by all means do so.


Well have you ever decided to define your genealogical niche? Do you find that you enjoy documenting the community, or have you become interested in Civil War soldiers from your ancestral home? Have you noticed that there is no one who is the African American specialist in your area of interest? Well perhaps that is the call to action for you to make the commitment to take your research a bit further and become that person who tells the story.  There are so many opportunities out there, and some of your are already doing it unknowingly.  You may be the one who works with beginners to get them started, or you have an interest in an extensive funeral program collection that you have amassed. You may be the one who can become the voice long lost. We need many more people to step up and to focus on those areas and to tell the story. We need the voices from the community to document the community’s history and we need commitment from the genealogical family. I hope that many of you will step up and become the voice that is sorely needed.


Well folks, time to wrap things up for this week. Thank you for taking your time to tune in as I know you have many things that you can choose to do with your time. Tune in next week and in the meantime, remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find.

African Roots Podcast Episode #292 November 7, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well the first full week of November is almost over and we are rush full steam ahead toward’s the year’s end. Most conferences are over and people are making plans for family time as holidays approach.

10 Year Celebration of MPAAGHS

A special congratulations to the folks in Virginia who are part of the Middle Peninsula AAHGS. They are celebrating 10 years and are having a special workshop tomorrow in Dunnsville Virginia at Angel Visit Baptist Church. This is an afternoon workshop for beginners and experienced researchers, and should be a lot of fun. Hopefully there will be time for some discussion with people to assist those new to genealogy, with methods of getting started. Also the workshop is a celebration of their 10 years, so a hearty congratulations to them.


Smithsonian to Assist With Preservation of Family Artifacts

This event will be hosted by the Historical Society of Washington, DC will host the event from 10 am – 5 pm on Saturday and 12—5 pm on Sunday at The Historical Society. The event is free and open to the public. But this a great chance to bring your favorite old family artifacts, such as dolls, flags, old military uniforms, bibles, historic pictures,  to meet with a professional who will tell you the best way to care for your object. The purpose is not to put monetary value on your items–the purpose is preservation. So if you have the time, this is a great time to learn how to preserve memorabilia.


Ancestry’s New Collection Contains Much Data for African Americans with Oklahoma Ties.

Ancestry has partenered with the Oklahoma Historical Society to assist people with family history. Now, more than 3.2 million American Indian historical records and images to its website. But we must remember that there are thousands of Freedmen families included in these records. I have been playing with these records and one can see the color images of the Dawes Cards, but there is also the 1893 Cherokee Freedmen Payment Roll, The Dunn Roll form the Creek Nation, marriage records, wills and so many little used records Such a treasure trove of data included. And—even if you have relatives who were not part of the Five Civilized Tribe, they may still be found in this data set. There is an Intruder Census, so this is of interest to everyone with ties to Oklahoma and Indian Territory.

Sample of Intruder Census from Canadian District of the Cherokee Nation, 1893


Slave Data for Ittawamba County Mississippi

Mississippi researchers from Ittawamba county have a good resource available to them. Ittawamba County Slave Data 1837-1860 is a small book with extensive information about slaves from that county. It was compiled and edited by Bob Franks, and it is completely online. It is a collection of transcripts including wills and deeds during those years. Click HERE for more information about this collection.


Free Access to Ancestry Through Veteran’s Day!

Now through Veteran’s Day–there is free access to Ancestry.

This is a great opportunity to explore the databases on Ancestry, and look closely at military records and even some global collections. So if you don’t have access to Ancestry and only use it through your library, this is good chance to get online and see what is there. Look at those Draft Registration Cards, The Mother’s Pilgrimage Database, of Gold Star Mothers, World War I and World War II, and look at some of the new collections. We are all creatures of habit and tend to look at the same thing again and again. But this is a great chance to explore some of their newer databases.


Item from my personal collection

I mentioned artifacts in our collections, perhaps we can look at our collections and share them with others. By sharing, I mean take a photo, share it with the family. Or if you are a writer, or blogger like me, this is a great time to share the artifact by writing a story about it, and tell the story of how you came to have it, and what it really is about. Artifacts provide a great opportunity to tell this piece of the family story. I have an old ashtray that I purchased at a memorabilia show. Well, I  have had it for years and am not connected to the person reflected on it. It was a commemorative ashtray for an old black church in Pennsylvania. Well, I learned later that the man whose photo was on the item, was a leader in the National Baptist Convention. Well, I have never done anything with it, and I realize that it is time that I research this man, a Rev. Parks, and tell a piece of his story, and the history of his church.

I have another collection of old books that reflect African American children in Drumright Oklahoma. I have written an article about them on one of my blogs, and perhaps its time I follow up and find the children or grandchildren of those featured in the book.

Sometimes the artifacts that we have lying around provide opportunities for us to research and tell a story. So many forgotten stories are buried in our own collections, so pull them out, look at them and tell those stories. These can be family photos, old books, souveniers etc. Let’s revisit our treasures lying around.


Last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show Research At the National Archives & Beyond, featured Dr. Allison Hobbs who discussed her research and her book, A Chosen Exile. A History of Racial Passing in America. This was an excellent show and the discussion of the concept of race, of choice, of gain, or perceieved gain and also of loss was discussed. Many of us know of families where someone did walk away from family, community and their past to obtain that perceive gain. If you missed the show you can hear the archived version online. Her show airs every Thursday at 9pm EST.


Well thank you for listening to me again, and taking time from your busy schedule to tune in to the podcast. Have a great week and remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find.