Category Archives: African-American Research

Black History Month: GeneaGem – Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery

February is Black History Month, so I’d like to share some free GeneaGems that I hope will be new resources for your African-American family history research. There will be one new GeneaGem each week, providing an introduction and quick overview of the website, and all the websites are free.

As Black History Month 2022 comes to a close, I’d like to share one last GeneaGem – Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery, which is a project of the Department of History at Villanova University and Mother Bethel AME Church.

With the close of the American Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States, newly free black people wanted to find family from whom they had been separated for months, years and even decades. Many families have had stories passed down of lost children, parents, cousins who were never found and reunited with loved ones.

The goal of Last Seen is to recover the stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade.

Last Seen provides both K-12 and college level lesson plan ideas, but genealogists will want to check out the Research tab to search thousands of Wanted Ads taken out by former slaves, hoping to find their loved ones.

The ads can be searched by newspapers, locations and with a map. What I really like about the interactive map option is that you can view the ads as they were placed over time.

Many of the ads have a surprising amount of details in them.

These ads were placed locations far outside the American South and geographically cover locations from Africa to Mexico to Massachusetts.

There are four ways you can contribute to this project – share your own family story, contribute ads found in old newspapers, transcribe the text of ads that have been donated and financially support this project.

That wraps up Black History Month for 2022. I hope you’ve found some interesting new websites to check out in your research.

Black History Month: GeneaGem – Enslaved.org

February is Black History Month, so I’d like to share some free GeneaGems that I hope will be new resources for your African-American family history research. There will be one new GeneaGem each week, providing an introduction and quick overview of the website,  and all the websites are free.

This week’s GeneaGem is more broad in scope. Enslaved is a historical perspective of the slave trade and its peoples.

Enslaved has had several iterations as it has developed and grown, beginning in 2011. Currently, it is successfully linking data from several projects and is expected to remain an ongoing project for decades.

There are currently hundreds of thousands of data entries that can be searched through four categories – People (the biggest category), Events, Places and Sources.

The project history page includes a list of eleven Founding Partners with links to their websites, which provides further resources not only in the U.S., but in Brazil, the U.K. and several university projects.

The People category is searchable by many terms – Gender, Age Category, Ethnodescriptor, Role Types, Occupation and Status.

The search can be further narrowed by Event type and Date, Place, Sources and Projects.

This website is more of an historical overview than it is a way to search individual ancestors, although a researcher might have some success with finding information about individual masters.

The Sources link provides a list of almost 3,000 archives, libraries and websites from which data has been collected and the list can be browsed.

 

Black History Month: GeneaGem: Freedom on the Move

February is Black History Month, so I’d like to share some free GeneaGems that I hope will be new resources for your African-American family history research. There will be one new GeneaGem each week, providing an introduction and quick overview of the website, and all the websites are free.

This week’s GeneaGem to celebrate Black History Month is the website Freedom on the Move.

This project is devoted to “rediscovering the stories of self-liberated people” – e.g. enslaved people who were runaways – and is hosted by Cornell University.

This is a growing collection of runaway stories based on transcribed advertisements and the project relies on the work of volunteers to expand the collections.

It is already touted as the compilation of thousands of stories that have never previously been accessible on one site.

The promotional video describes the appearance, behavior and trade of a runaway slave, who also stole a white horse. The description is from an ad that is spoken by a narrator, who describes the enslaved person as an insolent person who often uses foul language. The video is just over one minute long and the surprise at the end is that the ad was placed by Thomas Jefferson.

While you might be tempted to skip the link to K-12 Educator Resources, understanding the culture and social history of the times is important for all genealogists.

Not only can the visitor “walk” through some of the activities, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, there are links to seven other resources to learn more about the lives of those who “self-liberated.”

By using the Access the Database option, a search button will appear on the new page, which opens to the Advertisements.

However, there are four categories that can be searched: Advertisement, Runaway, Enslaver and Runaway Event.

Freedom on the Move is a research aid that depends on crowdsourcing. If you are looking for a worthwhile project where you can volunteer some time doing transcription, this is a project that will benefit descendants throughout the United States.