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Woodtor (DePaul Univ.) has written a detailed and easily accessible guide for readers searching for their African roots. After a general introduction to African American genealogy and the importance of family history, she sets readers on the path of researching their own family history. "If you are of African American ancestry," she writes, "you should know that most of your ancestors had arrived in the United States by the year 1790. Your American ancestry runs deepAin fact, deeper than that of the majority of Americans." Much of the book focuses on finding information from the Reconstruction era, locating military records from the Civil War, and analyzing the schedules of slave owners, old newspaper notices, and county registers to trace ancestors who lived as slaves. Throughout, Woodtor clearly explains what to expect from various sources and gives many intriguing examples from the field. While the reader may need to check other guides for locating information about other eras (e.g., African Americans in World War I), this book is highly recommended for all genealogy and African American history collections.ALinda L. McEwan, Elgin Community Coll., IL Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
Praise for Finding a Place Called Home
"This handsome publication is a must for anyone who is serious about their research." -- Blackfamilies.com
"A major work of encyclopedic scope. This book belongs on every African-ancestored family historian's bookshelf." -- Afrigeneas.com
"A detailed and easily accessible guide. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal
"Sprinkled with personal stories, historical information, and examples of documents and records used in roots-finding ventures. . . a valuable reference book." -- Ebony
"One of the best. . . comprehensive guides to finding ancestral lines. Woodtor provides an invaluable guide through the tangled African-American historical lineage." -- New Orleans Times-Picayune
African-American genealogy is a field that few non-Black researchers know very much about, myself included. The essentials of family research are generally the same, of course, and this well-written book reflects that -- but there are also a great many special considerations, techniques, and applications of old ideas that Woodtor presents clearly and in detail. Several chapters lay out the basic principles for the novice: Working backward from the living generation, moving from the known to the unknown, developing good research habits, checking all the sources, and so on. But they also point out the importance of oral tradition among African-American families, the necessity of identifying the last slave owner, and the tendency among many families to "disremember" unpleasant periods or relationships in the past. The author also relies on anecdotes, mostly from her own family, to illustrate the research process and to warn of special problems the researcher may encounter. A number of important topics are discussed at length, most of which I had only the most superficial knowledge of. Among these were the several extended exoduses during the 19th and early 20th centuries, including the great out-migration from Edgefield County, South Carolina to Tennesse, Arkansas, and (via Charleston) to Liberia; the "exodusters" movement of 1878-1879 from most of the Od South to Kansas and the Midwest; and the effects of World War I on the formation of a Black artisan and middle-class. Even searching the censuses of 1870-1920 brings special problems for the African-American researcher, since race was often incorrectly reported and surnames often changed over time.Read more ›
Dee Parmer Woodtor, Finding a Place Called Home: A Guide to African-American Genealogy and Historical Identity (New York: Random House, 1999) is a superb discussion of resources and methods, with a well-developed (and essential) emphasis on interpreting evidence from records. Includes examples and case studies throughout. The best book of its genre yet written.
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Best book on the market for a genealogical researcher. It is easy to read and reviews in detail, how to reseach your ancestor, who may have once been a slave. It reviews records that other guides do not explain or may not know exist. Finding this book, when I hit the brick wall was heaven sent. Not only did it help me decide what to do next, but it also help me to review the work I had did before and to see what steps I had missed. This book should be recommended reading for all genealogical researchers, beginners and advanced. Even though this book details African-American researching, it could be used for all types of genealogical researching.
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The book itself is beautifully laid out with photos, tables, quotes and sample documents. But don't let the good looks fool you! This book has real meat to it! I heartily applaud Dee's efforts to: describe the type of records available suggest how to organize research handle the delicacies of slave trading, and the consequential short history of many African Americans discuss the usefulness of tracing European ancestry assist you in finding your own voice during the process guide readers to a thoughtful presentation of results.Read more ›
As a serious researcher for over twenty years of various ethnic origins, regions and time periods, I found this book to be packed with information and encouragement for anyone researching African Americans. She not only includes hundreds of resources but gives examples of what you may find. She continually encourages the reader to keep looking and finding slave ancestors is not impossible. She also dimisses many myths about the lives of slaves as well as slaveholders. The book is very readable, for the beginner or experienced researcher. It is particularly helpful for someone who believes they have hit a brick wall. The author has combined her book into a "book of sources" with a "how-to book" in a most successful manner. Other genealogy writers would profit by studying her methodology.
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