GenToday-L Archive

African-American Genealogy

African-Americans, regardless of whether their ancestors were free or slave, are usually able to trace their ancestry back to the end of the Civil War without too much difficulty using the same sources white Americans use. Pre-Emancipation slaves were considered the personal property of their owners and are identified by the plantation records. Research then focuses upon the owner's family and the records it produced as slave owners, as well as on the slave family itself.

Searching for slave ancestors always requires a thorough investigation of the white slave-owning family in all public and historical records. The census records of 1870 are the first to list blacks by name. In 1850 & 1860 slave statistics were gathered, but did not list slaves by name, just tallied, and are useful as circumstantial evidence that a slave of a certain age and sex was the property of a particular owner. Free blacks and their families names were included in 1850 & 1860. Military records from Revolutionary War are available. Birth records are available as the slave owners need to protect his personal property by officially recording it. If you know the birthdate, you can search the birth records for a male or female slave born on that date and an owner/plantation name will be given.

Bills of sale will be found among land records, estate records or miscellaneous county records. Slave trade manifests are available at the National Archives, Washington, DC. Also write to the Registry of American Black Ancestry, Box 417, Salt Lake City, Ut 84110 .

Suggested Reading:

  • Finding a Place Called Home
  • African-American Genealogy Workbook
  • The Book of African Names
  • Finding Your People

    Tip of the Month

    Preserving Newspaper Articles: There is a home-style "bleaching" process that will help counteract the acid in the newspaper. It's the acid that causes the paper to yellow over time. When done correctly, the simple "bath" should keep your newspaper articles from turning that old, yellow color. It is suppose to work for up to 50 years. Make the magic solution by mixing two tablespoons of milk of magnesia with one quart of club soda. Then refrigerate it for eight hours. Next, pour the mixture in a shallow pan wide enough to hold the largest clipping. Lay one clipping at a time in the liquid and let it soak for an hour. When the time is up, remove the clipping and place it between several layers of paper towels to remove the excess moisture. Then dry on a clean flat surface, such as a piece of fiberglass screen (door/window screen) under the clipping so it will not stick.

    Interesting Fact

    Did you know that San Francisco has no cemeteries? In 1903 a city law passed stating there would be no people buried in the county of San Francisco. The dead had to be removed to other cemeteries outside the county and reburied. Next of kin were notified if they could be found; otherwise the dead were reburied in a mass grave in Colma Cemetery in San Mateo County just south of San Francisco County.


    Looking for JUDSON, anytime, anywhere, but primarily w/roots to the JUDSONs of CT. Refer to the Judson Connection on the Web at /judson.html Linda Dolby at

    Capt. William Phillips: found his MA Infantry 4th Reg, 5th Brigade, 2nd Div Militia Discharge Papers (Civil War) & deed to cem plot Lynn, MA among Dad's family papers but do not know who he is or how we relate.Linda Dolby at

    Wanted information on Silas and/or Charles (Cauis) MORIN (MORAIN/MORAN) located in U.P. of MICHIGAN in 1860-1900 or anytime for

    Looking parents & siblings of Jessie James Poyner & twin Essie Mae (Jane) Poyner, his d. cert. says Nov. 12, 1887 Topeka, Shawnee Co, KS, Essie said in KY. They are 2 of 13 children born to John Poyner and Martha

    I found reference to deed Essex County, (XXVI, p.166)Archibald Ritchie bought acres from James Griffing. Anyone have access to those deeds? I would appreciate a copy. Glad to reimburse for copying, time, and postage fees. Pat Griffin

    Seeking info Bo(u)ltinghouse/Boathouser/Boltenhouse. Believe Conrad & Eliz. came from Germany to Amwell, NJ & then moved to Ephrata, PA. They were associated with the Fahnestock family. Any info appreciated. Rosie Horn

    Researching Vine family, 1880's Wyoming, Indiana, Montana. Mother Sephronia (Mock), Sons Elvin, Harry, Johnny, Daughters, Elvira, Ethel, Minnie.

    Family names SWAIN, WOMBLE, BURDICK, PRICE, POWELL, all in South Georgia, except Burdicks who came from RI to MACON, Ga. Please contact me at

    Researching Terry line. Isham Terry Civil War ancestor(Elm Spring Ar 1862 Company I). Looking for Henry, Jesse and Hannah Terry of the previous generations. Family migrated in 1854 from NC to AR and eventually settled in St. Louis MO.

    THOMAS EDMUNDSON. lived Alleghany Co. PA; b 1796; m Margaret Muse.Children: Joseph; William; Alfred Fauntely; Lewis; Samuel; Mary; Kate; Minervie; Maggie. Reportedly son of Joseph Edmundson & Rebecca Cannday.

    Seeking info on FOSTER family in 1880 Franklin Co., MS. Children were Fanny, George, Joseph, Nan, Samuel, Vick, and Delton W (b. 1860 in Winnsboro, LA.) Who were their parents? Where did they come from? E-mail

    Seeking info on family of Robert WATTS (b. 1823 LA, d. 1838 MS) m. Matilda SMITH. Children Ephram (b. c1824), Martha, Nicholas, J. M., Matilda. Would like to correspond with descendants. E Mail Patchez

    Seeking George C. WYLAND, Sr. (b.1796c) Emigrated Wurttemberg, Germany, to Washinton Co., PA area mid 1800s. Known children: George C Jr. m. BRUNDAGE, Catherine m. SHEETS, Rosanna m. BRUNER.

    Looking for descendant of Harriet Johnson, b. 1825 in MS. First husband name unknown. children: Charles, b.1853 MS, m. Rebecka Wade. Magdelean, b.1850 MS., m. Joe Brewer, b. 1846 GA. E-mail:

    Seeking information on ancestors, place of birth & siblings of Joseph avis, who died Wake co, , NC 1790.

    George ADAMS (son of Jacob & Clarrisa DUSCHTIMER Adams); b 27 Jan 1802 Rainsbury, PA; m 18 Oct 1843 Jemima BOYLES (dau of Wm & Mary ROBBINS Boyles); d 26 Mar 1891 Monroe, WI. Any info would be helpful.

    Information needed for: Harrison SELMAN/SELMA born Dec. 1848 in VA. USA married Mariah(?) in 1875 and Laura(?) in abt.1880 email:

    Looking for information on parentage of William Hunter Miller b. 1832 Worthington or Columbus, Franklin Co. OH. Md. Ellen Lockwood 1860 in Onarga, Iroquois Co. IL. Died 1913 in Onarga.

    Daniel Camp, Burlington NJ 1800 md Harriet Champion (1815?-1864 Gileade&Mary) known children; John Wesley 1840-1925 NJ, James 1842-? , JOSEPH 1847-1929 NJ. John m.Jane Headley. Joe m. Mary Cox Errickson in 1870. DC_RUSTY@MSN.COM

    PARISH-TREVATHAN-MELTON seeking info on John G. Parish, born late 1700s in Virginia, married to Eliza Trevathan. Their grandson, Robert Marsh Parish, married Clementine Melton, daughter of Perry Melton.


    Frank WHIPPLE md Mary SINNAMON MEYER abt 1885 Deadwood Territory (SD). Family tradition says Frank from Lyon, MI but I can't find anything on him. Albert's obit says family returend to MI after Albert's birth.

    Nazaire GABORIAU DIT LA PALME/LA PANNE, b.abt 1830,d.aft 1917, m.Julie FORTIER;their children:Frank Francois LAPANNE/LAPALME, Delima,Malvina,Clara, & Josephine LA

    EASTMAN Is anyone researching this name in Ontario Canada? I would be interested in comparing notes.Dapne Eze

    Looking for any information re: Stephen Medlock, father of Stephen Medlock the preacher in Caldwell & Alexander Co. NC in the mid 1800's. Stephen Sr. is reportedly from Orange Co. or thereabouts pre 1800's.

    PRIVETT, Jesse earliest location for sure, 1881 Montague Co., Texas. Married Rebecca Ann THURMAN age 18 Dec. 1881. Children William, Oscar, Roy, Edgar, Lillie, Sade..Any Info appreciated

    Searching for ANY information on FRANCIS LITTLEFIELD b 1565 in Titchfield, Hampshire, UK, particularly something on his parents. Also who the Littlefield Coat of Arms was registered to in the UK.

    I need help in finding information on Anthony Trapp, b. approx. 1822 in SC. Sorry, I do not know county or town. This is from Archi Trapp. E-mail address (

    James and Nancy (CROWLEY) MCMANUS lived in Huntingdon county, Quebec between circa 1830-1865. Children: James, Thomas, Hannah, Hugh, Rosy (possibly married an O'LEARY and immigrated to Ohio). Kathy at

    Surname: BOLTINGHOUSE\BOULTINGHOUSE\BOTENHAUS. Will answer all inquiries. Known to have been in NY, NJ, PA,Ohio, KY, ILL and IND. Need Father of Jonathan. Rosie Horn

    STINCHFIELD/STANCHFIELD Researching descendants of John STINCHFIELD (1715-1783) and Elisabeth BURNS (1713-1785)-emigrated from England to Mass. then to Maine. Contact: Tracey Morris PO Box 6192 Kokomo IN 46904-6192.

    William Grant DALHEIM b.10/6/1869 Covington, Kenton Co., KY mother-Pauline, Father- ?DALHEIM. m. Emily Genevieve BROWN - b. 6/1872. Em's siblings- Ralph, Samuel,John,&William. parents= Samuel J. BROWN & Sarah Jane DEAN.

    Researching: BRONAUGH; BRUNEAU; MASON; MAGILL; mainly VA but other US states also. FINCH; FLINDERS; NASON; all US states & worldwide.

    Seeking families of or knowledge of John Levine Clark B.1860 d. 1907 Bracken co. KY and Frances "Fanny" Redmond b.1888 d.1950 Maysville,KY e-mail

    CAIRNS, Frederick; born Lincoln Nebraska 1875-1880 with surname HAYNES/HAINES Adopted by the CAIRNS family. Lived in St. Paul Minnisota 1899; Willmar Minn. 1901-1904. M & Div. Emma KENNEDY between 1898-1904.

    Searching for parents of Lt. Colonel Anthony ELLIOTT b ca 1610, Kirk Doughton, Yorkshire, Eng. He rec'd. land grants in VA for services in the House of Burgess & in IndianWars. hknight@mail.llion. org

    Researching fam Henry MULKINS 1775-1850 CT>VT>NY>OH>IN & Sherman BABCOCK 1762-1851 Stonington CT/Wa. Co NY> Pownal VT> Clarke/Harrison Co IN> Racine WI> Knox Co MO.

    Looking for any information on Emma DIBDIN, apparently married to Charles Henry HOBBS. Can't find marriage or birth, Portsmouth area of England. Contact Joanne MacLeod at

    Walter HOWARD & Louvenia JEWELL md Glasgow,KY in 31 JUL 1916.Some time later, they went to IN and setup housekeeping. Where were their families born and live? Thanks, Ed Stitt

    Looking for Sarah (Sally) EMMONS m. Thomas CURRY 1812 Harrison Co, IN. They moved w/family to Shelby Co, IL where they both died. Who were her parents? Where was she born?

    Seeking info re Nathan EVANS b. 1812 KY, m. Mariah CURRY 1835 Harrison Co, IN. He d. 1856 in Shelby Co, IL. Lemuel was his brother. Who were his parents?

    Looking for Aseph BROWN b. abt 1775. He m. Hannah PARK abt 1795 Berkshire Co, MA. They moved to Wyoming Co, NY where he d. after 1840. Who were his parents? Where was he born?

    COURTNEY, Robert Brown b. 1833 in IN.(diff. census show parents b. in KY. & OH.?) m. Mary Susannah BALL in MI. 1858, lived in IA. & KS. Had 10 children. He d. 1927 in Wichita, KS. Need names & inf. abt. parents, siblings.

    Need ancestors and Descendents of Alexander STRAHAN: B. 1859 Ireland D. ? in N.Y. M. Sarah Kendrick abt 1880 Westchester Co, N.Y. Reply to Judy Peitsmeyer

    Am looking for family names, BURDICK, SWAIN, PRICE, POWELL, WOMBLE in Macon or South Georgia.

    Additional Articles:

  • Federal Court Records
  • Help from Public Officials
  • Church Records

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