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African American Genealogy Records and Research Websites

By Family Tree Editors Premium

AfricaMap

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2016, 2020

This site from the Center for Geographical Analysis at Harvard not only visualizes contemporary data but offers historical overlays and geographical data tracking the slave trade.

African-American Cemeteries Online

Online database of African American cemeteries, categorized by state. Many include transcribed tombstones.

African-American Coal Miner Info Page

Information, links and a list of African American miners taken from a variety of censuses and other records.

African Ancestry

Information and updates about a DNA-based test developed by Howard University researchers to help African-Americans trace their African ancestry.

The African-American Genealogy Ring

A hub listing more than 20 websites as additional resources for African genealogists. According to the site, “If you are of African descent and have a website that contains information regarding our ancestors, you are welcome to join this Web Ring.”

The African-American Mosaic

Selections from the Library of Congress’ resource guide for the study of black history and culture, covering colonization, abolition, migrations and the 1930s Works Progress Administration.

AfriGeneas

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2010, 2014

Finding data on African-Americans prior to the 1870 census (“The Wall,” as researchers call it) can be difficult, but this site proves it’s not impossible. Information within tax records, diaries, plantation records and data on runaway slaves that may be helpful is indexed by last name, state and year. In addition to a wealth of how-to tips and message boards, AfriGeneas also offers census records, slave data, an index of 50,168 surnames and a collection of 16,338 death records.

African Voices

A lavishly designed, deep and interactive online exhibit by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Weave through the extensive set of streaming timelines, tour historical sites, meet individuals and see their works.

Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy 1719-1820

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015

The fruits of 15 years of work by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, this gorgeous site employs powerful search tools to comb through data on 100,000 Louisiana slaves.

Ancestry.com African-American Collection

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writer’s Project, 1936-1938

Christine’s Genealogy Website

Christine Charity’s site is an especially helpful one for researching African-American ancestors. She’s got good links and information about the post-Civil War Freedmen’s Bureau records, African genealogy and related articles and databases.

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System

Search names and regimental stories of the Union Army’s African-American units, or link to other National Park sites that interpret Civil War history. 

Cyndi’s List—African-American

Cyndi’s 200-plus African American genealogy links are listed by category.

Digital Library on American Slavery

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020

This 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: North American Slave Narratives

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2010, 2014, 2015

This rich site from the University of North Carolina is especially strong on the African-American experience, including such collections as The Church in the Southern Black Community, Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, and North American Slave Narratives.

The Encyclopedia Britannica Guide to Black History

Features 600 articles, along with historical film clips and audio recordings, hundreds of photographs and other images, related links and more.

FamilySearch

Search here to find Freedman’s Bank records and Freedmen’s Bureau records from Virginia.

Fold3.com Black History Collection

Free African Americans of Virginia,  North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware

The Freedmen’s Bureau Online

Search records from the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, established by the US War Department in 1865 to help freed slaves get on their feet. The bureau kept records on marriages, crimes and labor, as well as land abandoned by Confederate owners after the war. The site also points you to related Web sites with Freedmen’s Bureau information.

The Freedmen’s Bureau Project

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2020

This volunteer project has indexed nearly 1.8 million individuals found in records from the Freedmen’s Bureau, created after the Civil War to assist formerly enslaved African Americans.

Genealogy Resources on the Internet—African-Ancestored Mailing Lists

Frequently updated compilation of African genealogy-related Internet mailing lists, along with descriptions and instructions on how to join each list.

The Geography of Slavery in Virginia

A digital collection of advertisements for runaway and captured slaves and servants in 18th- and 19th-century Virginia newspapers.

HeinOnline: Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2020

Free registration unlocks access to 1.1 million pages from 11,110 volumes about slavery.

Index to Parish Court Slave Emancipation Petitions, 1814-1843, Orleans Parish, Louisiana

An Index to the Freedom Records of Prince George’s County Maryland, 1808-1869

International African American Museum Center for Family History

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2020

This handsome site is home to photos, videos, articles, a helpful blog and a growing collection of funeral programs, obituaries, historical documents and family histories.

Lowcountry Africana

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016

This site focuses on records that document the heritage of African-Americans in the historic rice-growing areas of South Carolina, Georgia and northeastern Florida, home to the distinctive Gullah/Geechee culture. Records include those of the wealthy Drayton family, which owned several plantations, plus Freedmen’s Bureau and Freedman’s Bank papers.

Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2015, 2016

This handsome site can help you research African-American ancestors after the Civil War. Created by experts Toni Carrier and Angela Walton-Raji, it has an interactive map of field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. When you click on a field office, a popup shows you the relevant National Archives microfilm numbers plus information about digitized records (if any) at FamilySearch.org.

National Archives’ Guide to African-American Genealogical Resources

This guide to National Archive records is helpful in finding and researching African American ancestors, plus links to resources on other sites.

National Archives Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands

Guide to federal records of the Freedmen’s Bureau in the National Archives.

Slave Voyages: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade – Downloads

Family Tree Magazine‘s 101 Best Websites Winner 2015

These databases describe more than 35,000 slave voyages, with the African names of 91,491 individuals taken from captured slave ships or from African trading sites.

Texas Slavery Project

This site examines the spread of American slavery into the borderlands between the United States and Mexico from 1820 to 1850. A database has population statistics for slaves and slaveowners.

Unknown No Longer: A Database of Virginia Slave Names

Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Websites Winner 2016

This database from the Virginia Historical Society lets you search or browse for slaves who lived in Virginia. You even can click on a map location to view documents, such as sale records, related to slaves held there.

USF Africana Heritage Project

The University of Southern Florida’s project to discover and share records of slaves, freedpersons and their descendants.

Voyages

This site examines the slave trade that forcibly transported 10 million Africans across the Atlantic between the 16th and 19th centuries. A database has information on slave ships that were captured and returned to Africa after importing slaves became illegal in North America.

Summaries written by David A. Fryxell and Diane Haddad

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