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A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors (Genealogist's Guides to Discovering Your Ancestor...) Paperback – December 24, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Franklin Carter Smith has been an avid family historian since 1977, having successfully traced his slave ancestry. His article, "Tracing Your African-American Roots," will appear in Family Tree magazine. Emily Croom is the author of several genealogy titles including Unpuzzling Your Past and The Sleuth Book for Genealogists.

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Product Details

  • Series: Genealogist's Guides to Discovering Your Ancestor...
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Betterway Books; 1 edition (December 24, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558706054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558706057
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
The volumes in Betterway's "Genealogist's Guide" series have been genrally excellent in leading researchers through the special problems, situations, and resources connected with non-Anglo-European-male ancestors. Anyone, even an otherwise experienced family historian, who has attempted to develop a black lineage more than three or four generations back in the United States knows the historical and social problems involved often are considerable - but they aren't insurmountable, as the authors show. Smith, a Houston librarian with legal training, learned early of the reluctance of his elderly relatives to discuss the "slave days" and of the tendency of black genealogists to end their quest with the 1870 census. He begins with the basics, the stuff we all learned (or should have) in the first year of research, but slants it toward the necessities of African-American history, including the need to deal with frequent name-changes, "consulting the elders," and evaluating family stories (both of which are especially important here). Likewise, in reading the federal census schedules, one must understand what was meant, both officially and locally, by "colored" and "mulatto," the definitions of which changed over time. Military service records, an important resource in most white pedigrees, are more problematic for black lineages before World War II. Church records are proportionately more important. Smith gives considerable space to the use of white (i.e., slaveholding) family records in tracing black families, and to the proper use of the federal census slave schedules -- subjects few of us have much experience with. Finally, he relates all this through three extended cases drawn from his own family research which exemplify the techniques and adjusted mind-sets he explained earlier. They're well written, carefully worked out, and inspirational as well as informative, and are worth the price of admission by themselves.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Miss A on March 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is so informative that I have also given it as a gift. The case studies were great. I was able to conduct more systematic research after reading this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By multiplefamilies on September 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellant book for anybody wishing to discover their past ancestors in the 19th Century. Good case studies help to keep one focused on reality and not the negative aspects of history.
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