Celebrate Black History Month!
If you're a genealogist, any time is a good time to celebrate and learn more about your heritage. But there's nothing like a designated month to get the whole nation to join you. Because February is Black History Month, we thought we'd kick off the month's first newsletter with a host of ways to learn about and celebrate your African-American ancestry. Check out these events, Web sites, television programs, books and CD-ROMs to see how you can participate during this important time of year.
· Feb. 9, Chicago
* Genealogy Workshop
* Harold Washington Library, Social Studies
* 400 S. State St.
· Feb. 12, Atlanta
* Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned
* Charles Reeves, Archival Operations Director, National Archives and Records Administration
* 12:15-1:15 p.m.
* Georgia State Archives auditorium
· Feb. 23, Little Rock, Ark.
* Answering the Call of Our Ancestors Genealogy
* Historic Arkansas Museum
* 200 E. Third St.
* (501) 221-3824 or (501) 324-9351
· Feb. 26, Annapolis, Md.
* An afternoon with Harriet Tubman featuring
* 2 p.m.
* Banneker-Douglass Museum
* (410) 216-6180
Central: "The Heroes of Black Comedy"
Five-part weekly series (Mondays, 10 p.m. ET/PT) features achievements of Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, The Original Kings of Comedy and rising performers.
· The History Channel: Black history programs are scheduled for most days in February, including "A Fragile Freedom: African-American Historic Sites" (Feb. 13) and "Mississippi State Secrets" (Feb. 28).
· TCM: African-American musicians are the focus each Wednesday in February, with movies featuring Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, Paul Robeson and others.
"The Rosa Parks Story" (Feb. 24, 9 p.m. ET/PT)
Stars Angela Bassett as icon of civil rights movement.
· HGTV: "Homes of the Underground Railroad" (Feb. 24, 9 p.m. ET/PT).
* African American Cemeteries Online
www.prairiebluff.com/aacemetery: Online database of African-American cemeteries, categorized by state. Many include transcribed tombstones.
www.mnh.si.edu/africanvoices: A lavishly designed, deep and interactive online exhibit by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Weave through the extensive set of streaming timelines (made possible by Macromedia's Flash 4, absolutely ecessary to fully enjoy this site), tour historical sites, meet individuals and see their works.
www.afrigeneas.com: 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.
Christine's Genealogy Website
www.ccharity.com: 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 rticles and databases.
Britannica Guide to Black History
blackhistory.eb.com: Features 600 articles, along with historical film clips and audio recordings, hundreds of photographs and other images, related links and more.
The Freedmen's Bureau Online
freedmensbureau.com: 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.
* African American Genealogical Research: How to Trace Your Family History by Paul R. Begley, Alexia J. Helsley and Steven D. Tuttle (South Carolina Department of Archives and History, $6.75)
* African American Genealogy: A Bibliography and Guide to Sources by Curt Witcher (Round Tower Books, $19.95) Available only through publisher, (219) 637-7098.
* Black Roots: A Beginner's Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs (Simon & Schuster, $13)
* Finding a Place Called Home: A Guide to African-American Genealogy and Historical Identity by Dee Parmer Woodtor (Random House, $18)
* A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Immigrant & Ethnic Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack (Betterway Books, $18.99)
* African Americans in the 1870 Census:
Family Archive CD 165
(Genealogy.com, $29.99) CD-ROM containing and alphabetical index of approximately 660,000 African-Americans who were enumerated inthe 1870 federal census.
* Database for the Study of Afro-Louisiana
History and Genealogy 1699-1860
edited by Gwendoly Midlo Hall (Louisiana State University Press, $45) CD-ROM containing searchable database of individual records for 100,000 slaves.
* Slave Narratives CD-ROM
(Ancestry, $39-95) Firsthand accounts of more than 2,300 slaves narrated to researchers in 26 states. Compiled by the Works Progress Administration from 1936-1938.
* The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Database
by David Eltis, David Richardson, Herbert S. Klein and Stephen D. Behrendt (Cambridge University Press, $195) Contains records of 25,000 trans-Atlantic slave-ship voyages made between 1595 and 1866 from all over Europe.
For a guide to tracing your African-American roots, see online highlights of "Seven Steps to Tracing Slave Ancestors" in the February 2001 Family Tree Magazine at www.familytreemagazine.com/articles/feb01/1870census.html.
Skim Copies Before Filing Them Away
A tip from Jan Roberts of Raymond Island, Victoria, Australia:
"In reference to the tip about not using valuable time reading material while in the library, but rather photocopying it and reading it at leisure (Jan. 24 edition): I was given this advice many years ago when I embarked on my first visit to our state archives. While there, I found the records of my great-grandparents' divorce. I had been told my great-grandmother divorced my great-grandfather because when she came home from hospital with her newest baby (my grandmother) he had sold all the furniture to pay gambling debts. Once I found the records, I didn't bother reading them, but put them straight into the photocopy request pile.
"However, curiosity got the better of me, and I retrieved the file to see if what I had been told was in fact the reason for the divorce. Was I glad I did, because I discovered the reason was that my great- grandfather was in jail! I was then able to locate his prison records on the same visit-and considering the archives repository is a five-hour journey from home, it isn't a trip I would have been making again in a short space of time. So, by all means save time by having documents photocopied, but take the time to make sure they don't hide any gems that will open up more doors."