Free online resources for finding African-American ancestors.
Connect with fellow researchers in this site’s forums, chats and mailing lists, or check its slave records collection, surnames database, death and marriage records databases and census schedules.
Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy 1719-1820
This database, which covers 100,000 Louisiana slaves, is the fruit of 15 years of research by Gwendolyn Hall, professor emerita of history at Rutgers University.
Digital Library on American Slavery
This new resource from the library of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro searches information culled from thousands of slavery-related county court and legislative petitions, wills, estate inventories and civil suits, filed in 15 states and the District of Columbia from 1775 to 1867. More than 150,000 individuals are named in the documents, including 80,000 slaves and 8,000 free people of color.
Documenting the American South
Although not exclusively focused on African-American heritage, these digitized collections from the University of North Carolina are a rich resource for researchers with African-American roots. Collections include the Church in the Southern Black Community and North American Slave Narratives.
Find ancestors and history among the historically rice-growing areas of South Carolina, Georgia and northeastern Florida, home to the rich Gullah/Geechee culture, in this site sponsored by the Magnolia Plantation Foundation of Charleston, SC.
USF Africana Heritage Project
A powerful search engine at this University of South Florida Africana Studies Department website makes it simple to search Bible records, WPA slave narratives, plantation journals, wills and probates, church records and other records of “slaves, freedpersons and their descendants.” You’ll also find a virtual library and reading room with historical and how-to articles.
For more tips and tools on tracing your African-American ancestors, try Family Tree Magazine
’s African-American Heritage Research Guide
—an enhanced PDF that downloads straight to your computer to allow for instant access to a wealth of information and resources. Available at ShopFamilyTree.com
From the September 2010 Family Tree Magazine