African American Family History Research
In search of your roots, I offer an in-depth look
at the African American experience and race relations throughout U.S.
history. Because enslaved African Americans were prohibited from reading,
writing, marrying, owning land, and voting, few of the documents, that I as
a genealogist, depend on, will even exist for them.
Even when I am researching recent ancestors,
segregation has left a series of obstacles that make the process more of a
challenge. The route I choose to begin with is by taking oral histories from
you, and I help you to take oral histories from the people closest to you.
By delving into the past; your older relatives can give you a window of
direct experiences, and evidence of the past, left behind by those who lived
it. Together, we can gather family heirlooms, photographs, excerpts from
family bibles, legal documents, marriage and birth certificates, death
certificates and funeral notices. All are extremely valuable tools for
understanding the lives, legacies, and stories of your ancestors and the
worlds in which they lived. These resources will be used as an
important starting points for me to perform further genealogical research.
Once we have gathered as much information as we
can, to establish your family's geographical background to some extent, I
will go straight to city and county records, library and archival work. I
will document your family's existence back to 1870, the first year in which
formerly enslaved African Americans were listed by name in the Federal
Census. The paper trail often runs cold at that point, I will then begin to
investigate other sources in those communities such as churches and
Working back to the 1850 and 1860 Censuses, which
do not include enslaved African Americans by name, but do list them, under
the name of their owners, by age and gender on slave schedules. I will
locate their slave owner, and do further research through will and estate
records to document ownership, as well as, locate and name the farm or
plantation, your ancestors worked on.
I will show you how to reconnect your ancestry
prior to the slave trade using DNA. You will be able to trace your maternal
lineage by analyzing the mitochondrial DNA, and your paternal lineage by
analyzing the Y-chromosome of your African descent. While DNA testing
doesn't take the place of published records, it adds another dimension to
understanding your family’s way of life.
Within your ancestry you will learn about your
family's health history. The more you know about it, the stronger your
family’s preventive health plan can be.
As I gather data, I record it on a computerized
genealogical software program. Where I create, compile and upload scanned
research documents, photos, and records into your family tree. I cite the
source for all information. I am passionate about accuracy. My list of facts
from legitimate sources gives your research validity and credibility. When I
am finished with your family history, I provide you with a family history
book, to have and enjoy for many generations to come.
Resources used for Genealogical research
Probate and Estate records
Ship passenger lists
Social Security Death Indexes
Tax and financial records
U.S. Slave Census
My Genealogy research Methods
Research usually begins with an analysis of the problem, and a survey of my
published sources. The initial survey allows an estimate of probable
research success, and helps demonstrate my prospective research services.
Depending on the available records and the individual family, this survey
may produce a considerable or modest amount of information.
To ensure the preliminary survey does not merely duplicate what is already
known, I need all of the information already gathered on the specific
genealogical problem. I require a detailed report of your family tree, or
copy of your GEDCOM. I will need to know who in particular you are
interested in finding more information about.
My Genealogical Reports
I provide you with a neat, methodical, documented report. My reports
summarize the research, indicate what was found, and give suggestions for
A complete report will include a professionally prepared copy of all
research notes and identification of all sources searched; with negative as
well as positive results. It might also contain maps, photocopies of
documents, notes from interviews, and other material.
Concluding the Genealogical Research
How do you know when research on a given line or problem should be
stopped? Some persons eventually see a line traced back to a point that
satisfies them. If this happens, let me know. In other cases, I will report
that all available documents have been exhausted. In all cases, understand
there are diminishing returns in research, and it is possible that some
records remain, but chances of success are small compared to the cost.
At some point, a decision to end genealogical research altogether, will
be made. Notify me of this decision so research can then be concluded and a
final report prepared. In the end, creating biographies of ancestors with
the historical context of events they lived through; locating lost relatives
and making meaningful family connections; even publishing the results of the
research to preserve this heritage for others.
Research costs and method of payment
I feel that each pedigree is unique. I have found that most people are
interested in the history of their ancestors, like myself. Whenever
possible I do my best to keep the costs low. The names and the dates are
important, but to have a copy of each birth, death and marriage record can
be costly and cumbersome. Whenever possible, I prefer to use Vital record
books for such information. Every state has these books and are available at
their town clerk's office. It saves money and provides you with the same
details found on the actual certificates.
For single generation ancestral research, individual family line the Fee is $300. For three generation or more ancestral research, the most common course is
to send a retainer and renew this when reports are received. I ask for a
1/2 of the overall fee as the retainer to begin research, then bill you for
additional costs. Based on the information found, and the research needed
to further investigate. It is necessary for you to authorize the research
to be billed later. I do this, by emailing you a report of what I propose
needs to be done, then I await for your email response, prior to completing
In some families, several people share the cost of research. Such
arrangements can make research more affordable, allow it to proceed more
rapidly, or buy a greater range of services (e.g., compiling a family
history in addition to tracing the ancestral lines). I stand by my NO FIND, NO FEE Guarantee!