Subscribe FAQ Terms of Use
Certificates Courses Course Calendar Packages Correspondence Courses Registration Consultation Appointments
My Briefcase Help! How Do I? Talk to Someone
Virtual Learning Room Conferences Consultant Services Field Trips Lectures by Instructors Spotlight & News Links Forms Comments by Students Scholarships Partnerships
Faculty & Consultants Graduates Contact Us Our Background Galleries We Need Your Help

Research: U.S. African American Ancestors
Register (Fees/Dates)
Other Info
Researching African American genealogy can be difficult but it is not impossible, as some believe. This course focuses on three aspects of genealogical research and how these relate specifically to researching African Americans: research skill, knowledge of records, and understanding of historical context.

The course is organized into reverse chronological eras, beginning with the twentieth century and moving through the late nineteenth century and Reconstruction, the Civil War era, and the antebellum (pre-Civil War) period. In each lesson case studies and assignments demonstrate and test the skills being developed.

Course Content

Module 1
Note about Web Addresses
• Beginning Your Research
• Genealogy Methods and Standards
Introduction to African American Research
Beginning Your Research - First Step: Collecting Home Sources
Organizing your information
• Pedigree charts and family group sheets
• Numbering system
Family traditions and oral histories
Continuing your research outside the home
Summary of common record groups
• Vital Records
• Census Records
• Probate Records
• Land Records
• Church Records
Defining your problem
Identifying and locating relevant records
Cluster genealogy
Principles of source citation
Sources, information, and evidence
Evaluating your evidence
The Genealogical Proof Standard
Suggested Reading

Module 2
Twentieth-Century Research
• Record Images
• Other Websites
Twentieth-century sources
• Vital records
• Federal census records
• Military draft records
• Social Security Administration Records
Privacy concerns
The Great Migration
Introduction to African Americans in the U. S. federal census
Locating your family in the federal census
Tracing back through the recent years
Supplementing the census with other records
Case Study: Gabriel Diggs of Prince George’s County, Maryland
Suggested Reading

Module 3
Late Nineteenth-Century Research & Reconstruction
• General Websites
• Freedmen’s Bureau Records
• Other Records
Overcoming the missing 1890 census
Using the 1880 census to identify families
The 1870 census: the first after emancipation
1867 Voter Registration lists
Southern Claims Commission
Freedman’s Bank records
Freedmen’s Bureau records
Other Sources
• Deed records
• Tax lists
• State census records
Case Study: Gabriel Diggs of Prince George’s County, Maryland (continued)
Suggested Reading

Module 4
The Civil War, 1861-1865
• General Websites
• Pension Records
The beginnings of the Civil War
The African American contribution to the War
Identifying your veteran ancestor
Compiled Military Service Records
Slave Claims Commissions
U. S. Pension Records
Identifying your pensioner ancestor
Clues in a pension application file
Confederate pensions
Case Study: Willis Shackleford aka Wilson Davis of Washington County, Florida
Suggested Reading

Module 5
Idenifying the Final Slave Owner
• General Websites
Records that identify slave owners directly
Creating profiles of the slave and the slave owner
Identifying a probable slave owner
The U. S. Census Slave Schedules
Comparing multiple lists of slaves
Case Study: Gabriel Diggs of Prince George’s County, Maryland (continued)
Case Study: Julia Whitaker of Clarksville, Red River County, Texas
Case Study: Jefferson Clark of Leon County, Texas
Suggested Reading

Module 6
The Antebellum Period (PRE-1861)
• General Websites
• Sample Record
Antebellum free African Americans in the North and South
Overview of the history of American slavery
Introduction to researching slaves
African American families under slavery
Using Chattel and Probate records to follow slave transactions
• Probate Records
• Chattel Records
Pre-1850 federal census records and local tax lists
Runaway slave advertisements
Slave narratives
Court records
Manuscript collections
Case Study: Gabriel Diggs of Prince George’s County, Maryland (continued)
Case Study: Julia Whitaker of Clarksville, Red River County, Texas (continued)
Suggested Reading

   Copyright © 1999-2019, National Institute for Genealogical Studies. All Rights Reserved.