Cover image for A genealogist's guide to discovering your African-American ancestors : how to find and record your unique heritage
A genealogist's guide to discovering your African-American ancestors : how to find and record your unique heritage
Smith, Franklin Carter, 1954-
First edition.
Publication Information:
Cincinnati, Ohio : Betterway Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
250 pages : illustrations ; 28 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.96 .S6514 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
E185.96 .S6514 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Ethnic Collection

On Order



This volume provides easy step-by-step instruction for researching slave and free black ancestors pre- and post-Civil War. It introduces a systematic approach that should help eliminate months or years of aimless wondering.

Author Notes

Franklin Carter Smith received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law Center. He has been an avid family historian since 1977, having successfully traced his slave ancestry as far back as 1760
Emily Anne Croom is an active researcher, teacher, and lecturer in genealogy. She holds a master's degree in history and contributes articles to several genealogy periodicals, including Family Tree Magazine

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Smith, amateur historian, and Croom, author of several genealogy books, offer a helpful resource for overcoming the particular challenges and obstacles faced by African Americans doing genealogical searches. The book provides a three-part approach to researching family history. Part 1 covers the post^-Civil War era to the present, showing readers how to search census records and oral histories. Part 2 focuses on pre^-Civil War research, and part 3 offers case studies of how three African American families traced their ancestry. Smith and Croom begin by outlining the basic principles of genealogy and advise readers to talk with family elders at reunions and family gatherings. A chapter on special situations regarding black families points to manumission records, free black registers, and tax and land records. Other chapters focus on researching related slaveholding families and post^-Civil War mixed-race families. This book, which includes outlines, maps and other materials to assist in research, will be greatly appreciated by black readers searching for their family roots. --Vanessa Bush

Table of Contents

Forewordp. v
1 In the Beginningp. 1
Basic Principles of Genealogy
Two Basic Charts
Tips for Success
Creating a Knowledge Base
Consult the Elders
Family Gatherings, Reunions, and Funerals
2 Census Recordsp. 15
About Census Records
Where to Find Census Records
Using Census Records
Indexes and Soundex
A Case Study: The Search for Ancestors of Elizabeth "Lizzie" (Blount) Armstead
3 Federal Sourcesp. 34
Social Security Records
Military Records
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
Freedman's Savings and Trust Company
Federal Land Records
Southern Claims Commission
4 State, County, and Local Sourcesp. 61
State Records
County Records
Local Records
Combining Records: The Case of William Collins
Research Guides to the States
5 Special Situationsp. 86
"Free Negroes" Before the Civil War
Manumission Records
Free Black Registers
Census Records
Guardianship Records
Tax Rolls
State Records
Land Records
Urban Free Blacks Before 1865
Native American Connections
For Further Reading: Free Persons of Color Before 1865
6 What's in a Name?p. 106
Given Names
A Case Study: One Crossley Family
The Next Steps
7 Location, Location, Locationp. 118
1870 Families in the North or West
1870 Families in the South
1860 Census Schedules
Using Land Records
Miscellaneous Records
On Location: A Study of Thomas Bowen
8 The Other Familyp. 129
Studying the Slaveholder Candidate
The Other Family: A Family Profile
Case Study: Caldonia (Short) Hilson
9 The Search for Ancestors in Slaveholder Documentsp. 145
The Slave as Chattel Property
The Records
Legal and Public Domain Records
Deeds and Property Records
Estate Documents
Court Records
Business and Personal Records
Other Resources
10 Case Study: The Issue of Mixed Racep. 163
The Search for Henry Dotson
The Post-Civil War Search
The Pre-Civil War Search
William Dotson, The Slaveholder
William Dotson, The Father
11 Case Study: A Story of Triumph and Tragedyp. 177
The First Steps: Tracking Back to 1870
The Search for a Cluster in 1870
The Search for the Slaveholder
Focus on Pre-Civil War Documents
12 Case Study: All in the Neighborhoodp. 187
Post-Civil War Research: Identifying Archie's Family
The 1870 Community
Pre-Civil War Research: Identifying the Slaveholder(s)
A Candidate Family to Study
The Parent Generation
Appendix A Free and Slaveholding States and Territories in 1861p. 201
Appendix B Federal Census, 1790-1930p. 208
Which Census Reports ...?
First Federal Census Available for Each State
Appendix C State Archivesp. 211
Appendix D National Archives and Regional Branchesp. 218
Appendix E Blank Formsp. 221
Endnotesp. 227
Bibliographyp. 243
Indexp. 245