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A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors

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Quick Overview

How do you approach the unique challenges of African- American genealogy? How can you make the most of your research time and effort? Join expert genealogists Franklin Carter Smith and Emily Anne Croom to explore successful strategies for getting started and moving beyond the basics.


Using examples, illustrations, and case studies, A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors shows you how to

  • Gather and preserve your family's special oral and social history
  • Research census records, especially the important 1870 census
  • Use African-American-specific sources, including the Freedmen's Bureau and Freedman's Bank records
  • Work with and evaluate county and federal records.

This book is unique because it includes methods for successful research in slavery-era records as well as strategies to help you identify your ancestors' slaveholder and slaveholding family. Case studies from various states and time periods tell the stories of real families whose lives were recorded in public records that you too can use. Discovering your family history can be a powerful experience that also allows you to create a special legacy for your loved ones.

"One of the most challenging aspects of American research is tracing black ancestors during and beyond slavehood. Smith and Croom offer practical, easy-to-follow guidance using sound genealogical research techniques. But more importantly, they offer hope for a difficult era in genealogical research."--Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, CG, author of You Can Write Your Family History.


Franklin Carter Smith earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Houston Law Center. An avid genealogist since 1977, he has successfully researched his slave ancestry back to 1760.

A researcher since 1969, Emily Anne Croom has a master's degree in history; she is a genealogy lecturer and teacher and has written five books on genealogy research and numerous articles for genealogy periodicals.