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African American Geneaology

African American genealogy can be a challenging yet rewarding endeavor for those researching their families. Information retrieval can be complicated by such things as lack of former slave and census records, and change of surnames. Luckily, there are many African American genealogy resources written to help researchers overcome the potential hurdles. The following collection is a sampling of what the Canton Public Library has to offer.

African American Genealogy Books

Finding a Place Called Home: A Guide to African American Genealogy and Historical Identity by Dee Parmer Woodtor (1999): A good place to start research, this 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.

Black Genesis: A Resource Book for African American Genealogy by James M. Rose and Alice Eichholz (2003): Arranged by state, this guide lists resources available in various libraries and repositories around the United States.

Black Roots: A Beginner's Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs (2001): An excellent resource for all levels of genealogy, this book explains in detail the necessary information for researching African American bloodlines.

A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors: How to Find and Record Your Unique Heritage by Franklin Carter Smith and Emily Anne Croom (2003): Written for beginning, intermediate and advanced genealogists. In addition to information regarding pre and post Civil war research, it also includes information for mixed raced persons and persons studying slaveholding families.

Genealogy Reference Books

The Handy Book for Genealogists by Everton Staff Publishers (2006): Organized by state, this important research aid includes extensive county records for the United States as well as information regarding state vital records.

The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs (2006): A detailed collection of information regarding obtaining and utilizing vital records for genealogical research.

Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources edited by Alice Eichholz (2004): Organized by state, highlights county records and holdings as well as a wealth of maps.


Ancestry Library Edition (In library use only): Search slave narratives in the Biography and History section as well as a wealth of other genealogical information.

Heritage Quest Online: Search the Freedman's Bank archive, founded in 1865 to serve African Americans.

Videocassettes and DVDs

African American Lives (DVD, 2006): A compelling combination of storytelling and science, this series uses genealogy, oral histories, family stories and DNA to trace roots of several accomplished African Americans down through American history and back to Africa

Unchained Memories: Readings From the Slave Narratives (DVD, 2003): In the midst of the Great Depression, journalists and writers traveled the country to record the memories of the last generation of African-Americans born into bondage. Over 2,000 interviews were transcribed as spoken, in the vernacular of the time, to form a unique historical record


Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society: The Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society is the first genealogical society in the State of Michigan dedicated to the research and preservation of African-American history.

AfriGeneas: African Ancestored Genealogy: AfriGeneas is a site devoted to African American genealogy, to researching African ancestry in the Americas in particular, and to genealogical research and resources in general.