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Genealogy is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages. It has become a growing hobby among older Americans. As challenging as it may be to trace one's ancestors beyond a few generations, many African-Americans have the additional hurdle of slavery to contend with. The issue of slavery often causes many African-American family record trails to die out by the 1870s. To go beyond will often require looking at the records of the slave owner's family and other creative methods. However, there are several websites today that see to digitize and make accessible records of African Americans.
Below are resources to help trace your family history.
African-American Lives 2: The Road Home (part 1 of 4, 2008)
From travesties of justice to the pursuit of the most intimate truths, this program focuses on participants’ ancestors in the early 20th century. Stories include the account of Tom Joyner’s great-uncles who, in 1915, were convicted by an all-white jury and executed for a crime that new evidence suggests they did not commit. Meanwhile, Bliss Broyard learns more about her father, renowned New York Times critic Anatole Broyard—a light-skinned black man who chose to pass as white. Ms. Broyard learned of her African-American roots upon her father’s death in 1990
African-American Lives 2 (4 part series)
The first African-American Lives series revealed the power that comes from discovering one’s family history. In this second four-part series, Henry Louis Gates Jr. guides a new group of guests through poignant, eye-opening revelations of ancestry and inheritance. Drawing on DNA analysis, genealogical research, and family oral tradition, Professor Gates ushers Maya Angelou, Morgan Freeman, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Tina Turner, and others into the distant past, then reconnects it to the present. In doing so, he helps viewers tap into rich veins of U.S. history while highlighting its profound connection with Africa