Tracing Your Family History

By Angela Allen Henry

Genealogy: Is defined as a record or table of ancestry. 2. Direct descent from an ancestor. 3. The study of ancestry. [Lat. genealogical]

 Are You Tracing Your Family Tree?  

  1. Begin with the present and work your way back. The resources available to you now are: photo albums, family documents and especially living relatives.  These are going to offer the freshest and most comprehensive information available to you. Make use of current technology to obtain copies of important documents from family members like, marriage licenses, birth and graduation announcements, photographs. These items will help you compile your research.
  2. Make the most of family gatherings. Keep a tape recorder on hand and take advantage of the times when families get together. Ask relatives questions about how they came to live where they presently reside, how and what things are different now than they were in the past; where they were and what they remember about historic events. Individual stories will enhance and personalize your family history in invaluable ways. Be sure to get kids involved; they are naturally curious and come up with surprising perspectives on the lives of older family members.
  3. Be patient and persistent. Sometimes history can be difficult to trace, especially for African Americans. The good news is that more resources are available now than ever for following the path back as far as possible. Consider the task a meaningful journey rather than a destination. Be prepared to learn more about yourself as well as your family as you delve into your family history.
  4. Share your history. Donate copies of family photographs and other documents to your local library, museum or historical society. Having the archival evidence of your family history on official record is an important contribution not only to future generations of your family, but to your community and to your country. 

Resources: -

A number of books and Internet links are available that can help you with your genealogical research. Here are a few:

Archival Services Branch African American Genealogy: A bibliography of resources to help beginners with genealogical research.  Genealinks is a categorized directory of well-known and not-so-well-known genealogy and history sites to help visitors find genealogy information on the internet.

AfriGeneas: is a site devoted to African American genealogy. It is also an African Ancestry research community that offers the opportunity to honor and showcase ancestors.”


 Bonus links:

Kids Link A good way for children (and everyone else!) to get into family history is to start by learning more about their cultural history as well. African American World includes contains lots of interesting, educational, interactive content on the subject of African American history.

Encyclopedia Guide To Black History is a great research resource. 

Daily Black History Facts.  Visiting this site will help you build your black history knowledge, one fact at time.









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