Black Genesis. A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy By James M. Rose and Alice Eichholz, 2nd Edition

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"Black Genesis: A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy" originally published in 1978, was a pioneer work in providing researchers with information needed to trace their roots. Now in its second printing of the second edition it has some competition from others who have written about African-American genealogy including, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Tony Burroughs. In our world where information travels quickly and it seems the written word is out dated moments after it is published, it can be easy to discount books that contain information written more than a few years ago, especially in the case where a book is subtitled "A Resource Book." My guess is, even with the revision date of 2005, "Black Genesis" with its extensive list of resources and repositories probably does have some out of date addresses, e-mails, websites and phone numbers. But don't discount its importance in providing methodology and resources. This book continues to be an important addition to the study of African-American genealogy.

This two-part book begins with chapters that explain the how-to of researching including, oral history; National Archives and federal records research; military records; migration patterns and slavery. These chapters serve as a brief review of records that will be useful in researching African-American ancestors. These chapters are not a lengthy treatment of their individual record groups and methodology, so those who need more information about research will need to seek out another how-to book as a companion to this guide.

My favorite part of this book is actually Part 2. Like many genealogy books, this book contains extensive resource lists, divided by state including a listing for Canada. Like similar books, it is in these listings that you can find state-specific information. Each state has such information as the following:

  • Important Dates
  • State Archives
  • Census Records
  • State and County Records
  • Military Records
  • Newspapers
  • Research Contacts
  • Manuscript Sources
  • Cemetery and Church Records
  • Internet Resources

But what I really love about these listings that you don't see as much in other books is the examples of manuscript collections that can be found for your research. Are these listings complete? No, there's no way one book could record all the resources there are, but this book provides the reader with some nice examples. Consider some of the manuscripts listed for Louisiana (p. 169-172):

  • Bolton and Dickens Company Slave Trade Records (1,500 names of slaves)
  • Charles Martin Civil War Papers. Includes poll tax records of "colored people."
  • U.S. Customs Service records, port of New Orleans, LA, inward slave manifests 1807-1860
And that's just a few of the titles that you can find in this volume. These listings of manuscript collections are gems especially since they are often ignored by researchers. They provide examples of what can be found when you research outside of online database websites.

"Black Genesis" is a reference book that researchers will want on their bookshelf ready to consult. I hope future editions will be considered and will include even more unique resources for research.

[Amazon:0806317353|Black Genesis. A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy]], by James M. Rose and Alice Eichholz, 2nd Edition

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