Happy Juneteenth—the holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. On that day, Union Gen. Gordon Granger stood on a balcony in Galveston and read General Order No. 3, informing the people of Texas that slaves there were freed.
From the beginning, Texas freedmen marked Emancipation Day—now known as Juneteenth—with festivals and remembrances of enslaved ancestors. Observances declined during the early 20th century, but have seen a resurgence since the Civil Rights movement. Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas in 1980; 41 other states and Washington DC have designated it a holiday or a day of observance.
Learning about African-American roots during slavery is difficult but it isn’t always impossible. These free online articles will get you started:
- Follow these eight steps to using the 1850 and 1860 US census slave schedules—which enumerate but don’t name slaves—to find records of your enslaved ancestors.
- African-American Genealogy Toolkit with websites, publications and organizations for tracing African-American roots.
- About the Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy Website, which contains information on African people in Louisiana from 1719 to 1820
For more, check out these articles for information on how to research enslaved ancestors: