African-American Genealogy

Interest in genealogical research once seemed to be relatively confined to the descendants of the first wave of settlers to arrive in this country, i.e., to “Anglo-Saxons”; therefore many genealogical research manuals concentrated on such emigration, to the neglect of other ethnic groups. The popularity of Roots, by Alex Haley, both as a book and a television miniseries, heightened the genealogical interest not only of African Americans but of many other Americans of varied ethnic heritages.

Guides to research formulated for particular ethnic or religious groups may be located by consulting the online catalog under the name of the group or nationality (e.g., “African Americans–Genealogy,” “German-Americans–Genealogy”).

The following are a few research aids for African-American genealogy.

Alderman Reference
E 185.96 .A444 1995
African American genealogical sourcebook. Ed. by Paula Byers. 1st ed. New York : Gale Research, c1995.
AfriGeneas: African Ancestored Genealogy. Website: / c2005.
Map Room
E185.96 .A45 2000
Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1699-1860 [electronic resource]. Ed. by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall. Baton Rouge, LA : Louisiana State University Press, c2000.

Consists of the data files of many contributors in the same format as originally created by their compilers. No software is resident on the CD and no attempt was made to standardize the software with which each contributor worked. The files convert readily to formats of other applications. Hall has created and edited a collection of well over 100,000 records from countless civil documents, manuscripts, and published censuses to provide a look into the lives of Africans and peoples of African descent in Louisiana, as well as of their owners and freers, from earliest colonial times through 1860.


Alderman Stacks
E 441 .A58




Alderman Reference
E444 .A45 suppl. 4

The American slave: a composite autobiography. Westport, Conn., Greenwood Pub. Co. [1972- ] Lib. has v.1-19.

Vol. 2-17 consist of transcriptions of narratives prepared by the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-38, and deposited in the Library of Congress, where they were assembled under title: Slave narratives, a folk history of slavery in the United States from interviews with former slaves. (See below.) Bibliography: v. 1, p. 179-200.

Potts, Howard E. A comprehensive name index for The American Slave. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1997. (Index to WPA Slave interviews.)

Alderman Stacks
E185.96 .B36 1997
Beasley, Donna. Family pride : the complete guide to tracing African-American genealogy. New York, NY : Macmillan USA, c1997. Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Virginia Freedmen Extraction and Indexing Project. Richmond, VA, 2006-2007. The black past. c2007-2008.

Includes An Online Reference to African-American History by Quintard Taylor.

Alderman Stacks
Blockson, Charles L, and Ron Fry. Black Genealogy. Englewood Cliffs, N. J. : Prentice-Hall, 1977.

Best of the available guides to Afro-American genealogical research.
Born in slavery [electronic resource] : slave narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938. [Washington, D.C.] : Library of Congress, [2000-?]
Alderman Reference
E185.96 .B94 2001
Burroughs, Tony. Black roots : a beginner’s guide to tracing the African American family tree. New York : Fireside Book, c2001.
The Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies. Website. Charlottesville, VA.

Contains online resources such as: “The African American Cemeteries in Albemarle County Project,” and the “J. F. Bell Funeral Home Records, Charlottesville, VA 1917-1989.”

Costa, Tom. The geography of slavery in Virginia. Website. University of Virginia at Wise, 2005.

The Geography of Slavery project contains a searchable database of more than 4000 advertisements for runaway slaves and indentured servants, drawn from newspapers in Virginia and Maryland, covering the years from 1736 through 1795. Freedmen’s Bureau Online.

Includes records on marriages, labor, and murder & outrages against freedmen.

Alderman Stacks
E 185.96 .H482 2001
Heinegg, Paul. Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina : from the colonial period to about 1820. 4th ed. Baltimore, Md. : Clearfield, 2001 (Genealogical Publishing). 2 vols.
Alderman Stacks &
Special Collections
E332.2 .J467 2001
Jefferson-Hemings : a special issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Arlington, Virginia : National Genealogical Society, 2001.

Volume 89, No.3, September 2001. Feature article: Sally Hemings’s children: a genealogical analysis of the evidence / Helen F.M. Leary — Review essays: The “Scholars Commission” report on the Jefferson-Hemings matter: An evaluation by genealogical standards / Thomas W. Jones. Can the “character defense” survive?: Measuring polar positions in the Jefferson-Hemings controversy by the standards of history / Joshua D. Rothman — Notes and documents: Can researchers prove the “unprovable”? : a selective bibliography of efforts to genealogically document children of master-slave relationships / Gary B. Mills.

Alderman Stacks
E 185.96 .J57 1996
Johnson, Anne E. A student’s guide to African American genealogy. New York : Oryx Press, 1996.
Gov Info Virginia
VSL 7/G 326 R/1999
Library of Virginia. Resources for African American genealogical research. Rev. 1999. Richmond, Va. : The Library of Virginia, 1999.
Alderman Reference &
Special Collections
E445 .V8 V57 2007
Morales, Leslie Anderson. Virginia slave births index, 1853-1865. Westminster, Md. : Heritage Books, 2007-present. 5 vol.

Transcribed and extracted from the “Birth index of slaves, 1853-1865,” a project undertaken by the Works Project Administration (WPA), currently available on microfilm at the Local History/Special Collections, Alexandria Library (#00079).

North American slave narratives [electronic resource]. [Chapel Hill, N.C.] : Academic Affairs Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, c1998-

“Documents the individual and collective story of the African American struggle for freedom and human rights in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. … includes all the existing autobiographical narratives of fugitive and former slaves published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920. Also included are many of the biographies of fugitive and former slaves and some significant fictionalized slave narratives published in English before 1920.” (“Collections” in Documenting the American South. Duke University, 2004.
Alderman Stacks & Reference
Z1361 .N39 P496 1990

Plunkett, Michael. Afro-American sources in Virginia [electronic resource] : a guide to manuscripts. Charlottesville, VA. : University Press of Virginia, [1995]

Plunkett, Michael. Afro-American sources in Virginia : a guide to manuscripts. Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 1990.

Alderman Stacks
CS21 .R57 2003
Rose, James M. Black genesis : a resource book for African-American genealogy. 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD : Genealogical Pub. Co., 2003.
Alderman Microforms Room
Micfilm 145
Slave narratives, a folk history of slavery in the United States from interviews with former slaves. Typewritten records prepared by the Federal Writers’ project, 1936-1938, assembled by the Library of Congress project, Work Projects Administration, for the District of Columbia. Sponsored by the Library of Congress. Washington, 1941. Stanton, Lucia. Monticello Plantation Database. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2006.

This new website contains information about people who lived in slavery on Thomas Jefferson’s plantations. It provides access to a database of information on over six hundred individuals. This is a work-in-progress, and will continue to expand through 2006.

Alderman Stacks & Reference
E 185.96 .S817 1986
Streets, David H. Slave genealogy : a research guide with case studies. Bowie, MD : Heritage Books, 1986.
Govt. Info. US &
Law Library Documents
AE 1.124:108/2003
United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Black family research : records of post-Civil War federal agencies at the National Archives. Washington, DC : National Archives and Records Administration, [2003]

Includes bibliographical references (p. 22).

Unknown No Longer. A database of Virginia Slave Names. Virginia Historical Society, 2014.

Includes names of slaves found in the unpublished manuscript collections of the Virginia Historical Society.