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Tracing the African-American Genealogy

| Articles | June 11, 2013

It is quite difficult to trace back one’s family of African American. The 400,000 black Africans were the descendants of most African Americans nowadays. Their descendants were sent to North America to become slaves during the 18th and 19th century. Most of them do not have records since they were considered as slaves with no rights.

Despite of this, it should not hinder you from knowing your genealogy. You should start with the families you know and then research. There are six steps in which you can trace your roots of African American.

The first step is to start with yourself. Jot down all the things you know about you and your family. Check the old boxes in your storage room to see some old pictures of your ancestors, diaries and the like which could help you identify your ancestors. Ask your family and other close relative to help you out.

Step two is the phase wherein you will take your family back to the year of 1870. It is an important date to all African Americans who are residing in the United States because it is the year wherein all blacks’ names were listed. In order for you to efficiently trace your ancestors, research on genealogical records like the census, cemeteries, tax records and the likes.

The next step is to identify your ancestor’s last owner or master. Not all black were slave before the civil war because some of them were already called free man. You can check the 1860 census to see whether your ancestor is a freeman or not.

If you are already sure that your ancestor was a slave, identifying his or her last owner is the next priority. There are some slaves who used their last owner’s name when they were declared free but then most of them didn’t. Further research is still needed.

Step four is about the slavery and owner’s research. Once you found your ancestor’s slave owner, you need to track their records to know what they did about their properties. The logic behind this is that slaves are part of the owner’s property. Research on their probate records, wills, bills of sale, plantation records, and advertisements of runaway slaves from newspapers.

The next step is to focus in Africa. Just like what mentioned earlier, the slave Africans came from Africa as a form of slaves to American owners. Find any records about slave advertisements and slave sales which may you enough clues on how the slavery originated.

The last and final step in tracing your ancestor is to consider the Caribbean. After the Second World War, a big number of African ancestors migrated to the United States from the Caribbean wherein they were also considered as slaves. After you prove that your ancestor came from the Caribbean, further research about the place is needed to identify your genealogy.

Tracing back one’s ancestors is not an easy task. You need to put up a lot of patience if you really want to know your family genealogy. A lot of research is the most important factor in this process.

Do not give up if you feel like you’re already losing hope in tracking your ancestors down. A lot of time is needed before seeing some results. The internet would be of great help in performing researches.

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