18 February 2011

Black History Month Resource Spotlight #2

February is when we celebrate Black History Month. Throughout this month we will be posting resources to help with your African American ancestral research, some available via NGS, and some available elsewhere.  Some will help you directly with your genealogy while others might educate you on relevant historical topics.

This spotlight covers several wonderful resources for African American genealogy research.  We could publish resources every day all month and still not cover all that is out there!

If you have a favorite African American research resource you’d like to see us mention, please drop a note to [email protected]

Ancestry.com has added five new collections to their African American Historical Record Collection
  • US Colored Troops Service Records, 1861-1867: Approximately 178,000 African American troops served the Union in the final two years of the US Civil War. Their compiled service records include enlistment papers, casualty sheets, death reports, and correspondence.
  • Slave Ship Manifests from Savannah, 1789-1859: Although the transatlantic slave trade was banned in 1807, the internal transportation of slaves remained, especially as the tobacco industry diminished in the North while the cotton industry boomed in the South. These port records document the arrival and departure of more than 10,000 slaves through the port of Savannah, GA.
  • Slave Ship Manifests from New Orleans, 1807-1860: Another important Southern port, this collection includes records for more than 100,000 slaves who arrived or departed through the port of New Orleans.
  •  Freedmen’s Bureau Records, 1865-1878: The Freedmen’s Bureau was formed after the Civil War to aid in Reconstruction efforts. This collection contains hundreds of thousands of records relating to former slaves the Bureau helped find work, to establish schools, negotiate contracts, seek medical care, legalize marriages and more.
  • Slave Narratives, 1936-1938 (updated): In the early 1930s, an effort began to document the life stories of 3,500 former slaves. The result is a series of moving, individual accounts of their lives, as told in their own words.

This new online database contains records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths in colonial New Orleans — including those of African slaves, who until now have been nearly invisible to genealogical research. The time period covered is 1777-1801.

February’s Black History Month is the perfect time to investigate the tremendous contributions that African Americans have made to the history and cultural development of the United States. In this feature, teachers, parents, and students will be introduced to some of the best resources for telling the story of African Americans as well as some of the most influential voices and the most memorable images from that history, literature, and culture.

Areas to explore are: Slavery & Abolitionism, Civil War: 54th Regiment, Up From Slavery, W.E.B. Dubois and NAACP, Great Migration, Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, Raisin in the Sun, Barack Obama, Picturing America, Featured Lessons, and Featured Websites. 

The Library of Congress and The National Archives Celebrate African American History Month

Is Your Local State Library and/or Archive Celebrating Black History Month?

Many local and state archives and libraries celebrate Black History Month.  For example, The State Library of North Carolina has created a page devoted to Black History Month and has a great collection of resources. I also found that the Springfield City (MA) Library, Westfield State College Ely Library (MA), Arlington Public Library (VA), County of Los Angeles Public Library (CA) and many, many more public facilities across the country are offering informative programs and providing easy access to available research materials.  Do check out what your local library is doing to celebrate Black History Month.

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