African American Genealogy records are much more difficult to find due to the scant nature of record keeping for blacks prior to the Civil War. We have modeled this center much like we have for Native Americans, whose research can also be hampered by the available records. The links below provide an accurate reflection of what African American genealogy is available online.
Conducting successful African American genealogical research can be a challenging adventure. In recent years, the challenge has been lessened and the adventure heightened by the growing body of publications relating to this ethnic group. Special-interest groups and genealogical societies nationwide are publishing key guides, new bibliographies, and important how-to books. Before delving into published sources, however, it is always important to pause long enough to organize one’s own personal papers and review standard research methodology.
Searching for African American families involves two distinct research approaches. These approaches correspond to the distinct change in the legal status of African Americans in the United States before and after the Civil War. Genealogical techniques used to track slave families before the war are necessarily quite different than those used for white or free African Americans; however, research conducted on African Americans after the war usually involves the same types of records as those used for whites.
Featured Black GenealogyWPA Slave Narratives
Slave narratives are stories of surviving slaves told in their own words and ways. Unique, colorful, and authentic, these slave narratives provide a look at the culture of the South during slavery which heretofore had not been told.
- American Missionary Association
Brief sketches from the American Missionary Association for the years 1888 to 1895. The main purpose of this organization was to eliminate slavery, to educate African Americans, to promote racial equality, and to promote Christian values. They discussed many missionary topics in each publication, Blacks, Indians, schools, and much more.
- African American History, links to Historical African American Documents
- Records of Death and Interment at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, 1864-1865
The records of death and interment at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, 1864-1865 provide the decedent's name, rank, unit, cause and date of death, and burial location. The Records of Death from the Colored Refugee Home and the Freedman's Hospital are for "contraband", slaves who escaped or were brought within Union lines. The latter records provide the decedent's name, height, and date of death.
- African American Mailing Lists
- Henry Ossian Flipper, Colored Cadet at West Point
Autobiography of Lieut. Henry Ossian Flipper, U.S.A., First Graduate of Color from the U.S. Military Academy. This autobiography claims to give an accurate and impartial narrative of Henry's four years life while a cadet at West Point, as well as a general idea of the institution there. They are almost an exact transcription of his notes taken at various times during those four years.
- Rough Riders
Compiled military service records for 1,235 Rough Riders, including Teddy Roosevelt have been digitized. The records include individual jackets which give the name, organization, and rank of each soldier. They contain cards on which information from original records relating to the military service of the individual has been copied. Included in the main jacket are carded medical records, other documents which give personal information, and the description of the record from which the information was obtained.
African American Genealogy Records by State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Please note some states are omitted due to lack of online information
African American Cemetery Records by State
Following states have a large online collection of African American Cemeteries
African American Census Records by State
Following states have a large online collection of African American Census Records
Slave Owners by State
Following states have a large online listing for Slave owners
Online African American Books
- Slave Narrative of Lunsford Lane
Slave Narrative of Lunsford Lane - Embracing an account of his early life, the redemption by purchase of himself and family from slavery, and his banishment from the place of his birth for the crime of wearing a colored skin.
- The Fugitive Blacksmith
The Fugitive Blacksmith: Events in the history of James W. C. Pennington, Pastor of a Presbyterian Church, New York, formerly a slave in the State of Maryland, United States. The principal portion of the 'Tract,' as Mr. Pennington modestly styles his book, consists of an autobiography of his early life as a slave, and of his escape from bondage, and final settlement in New York as a Presbyterian Minister. His adventures and hair breadth escapes invest the narrative with startling interest, and excite the deepest sympathies of the reader.
- History of Liberia
This paper claims to be scarcely more than a brief sketch. It is an abridgment of a History of Liberia in much greater detail, presented as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University.
- History of Black Soldiers in the Spanish American War
History of Black Soldiers in the Spanish American War: The troops of the 9th and 10th Cavalry, and the 24th and 25th Infantry served with distinction on the battlefields of Las Guasimas, El Caney, and San Juan Hill. In four months of fighting the Spanish under these adverse conditions, the Buffalo Soldiers were described as “most gallant and soldierly.” This is their story
- Great Riots of New York 1712-1873
A History of all the Great Riots of New York from 1712 to 1873. Includes histories of the Black Riots, Draft Riots, Flour Riot, Stamp-Act Riot, Abolition Riots, Dead Rabbits' Riot, Astor Place Riots, Spring Election Riots, Doctors' Riot, and the Orange Riots.
- A Century of Black Migration
A century of Black migration (or the Great Migration) details how Blacks in the United States have struggled under adverse circumstances to flee from the bondage of the South in quest of lands offering Freedom and opportunity.
- The Fugitive Slave Law
The Fugitive Slave Law was enacted by Congress in September, 1850. It declared that all runaway slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters. In effect, encouraging local officials to "kidnap" suspected slaves, detain them, and transport them back to Southern States and their "owners". This collection provides a synopsis of the act itself, and specific, named examples of it's effect on Blacks living in the North.