Friday, January 18, 2013

African-American Genealogy

Researching African-American families prior to the civil war is more than just challenging, it is downright difficult. I am in no way an expert (novice would be a closer assessment of my skills) so instead of giving you specific advice, I will try and lead you into the right direction. I try to keep up with what is happening in all aspects of the genealogy world including the latest news in AA research.

Names you need to know (in alphabetical order)

  • Bernice Bennett
    She is the BlogTalkRadio girl! She hosts a weekly radio program called Research at the National Archives & Beyond interviewing the top genealogists in the field on a variety of subjects. I have gotten to "know" Bernice via Facebook. She is always happy and upbeat and continues to pass on great info. You can read more about Bernice on Bernice's Bio.
  • Tony Burroughs
    Tony is the author of Black Roots: A Beginners Guide To Tracing The African American Family Tree. This guy is a true expert on African-American research. "Building Blocks of African American Genealogy" is an excellent article that Tony wrote. You can read more about Tony on Tony's Bio.
  • Toni Carrier
    Toni is the founder of Low Country Africana, a website dedicated to African-American research in Ga, SC and FL. Even though this website is location specific, you will find great info that will help you no matter where your lines are. You can read Toni's bio HERE but you will need to scroll down a bit to see it.
  • Melvin J. Collier
    I am convinced that Melvin and I have to be kin since we are both from Mississippi :) He is the author of two popular books, 150 Years Later: Broken Ties Mended and Mississippi to Africa: A Journey of Discovery You can read more about Melvin on Melvin's Bio.
  • Robin Foster
    Robin's Saving Stories blog encourages you to record those family stories and oral traditions before they are lost forever. Robin also restores old photographes. She shows us that genealogy is more than just a bunch of vital statistics. You can read more about Robin HERE.
  • George Gedder
    George is another popular blogger. He chronicles his research in his Geder Genealogy blog. I love the photos that he posts. You can read more about George HERE.
  • Tim Pinnick
    This guy is a total brainiac! He is a former public school teacher who now lectures at Samford University and writes scholarly papers on African American research. One of his areas of expertise is the black coal miners of the 19th and 20th centuries. You can read more about Tim on Tim's Bio.
  • B. J. Smothers
    Brenda is the executive assistant to the mayor of Selma, Alabama which is pretty cool all by itself. She is also an accomplished African-American researcher. She teaches others what she has learned over the years researching her own family. You can read more about B. J. on her homepage.
  • Angela Walton-Raji
    Angela is really interesting to me because her area of expertise is African-American and American-Indian connections and roots. I am part Choctaw Indian and the Choctaws play prominently in her research. She also does weekly Podcasts at African Roots Podcasts. You can read a short bio on Angela on the right side of the podcast page.

Websites you need to visit:

Genealogical societies you need to join:

Books you need to read:

FREE videos/lectures you need to watch:

Researching African-American lines is very challenging but equally rewarding. Hopefully, the resources I have listed will help you in your adventure.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Thank you for this list. I've met several of these experts through Twitter, but I haven't read the books and look forward to delving into them. So much to learn, so little time!

  2. I have spoken with several of them via Facebook and they are a wealth of knowledge :)