In honor of Black History Month, established in 1926 and celebrated in February, here’s a roundup of resources – websites, blogs, repositories and more – to help you learn more about your family. Each resource listed offers more links to additional information.
Today is also the birthday of African American baseball superstar Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron, born in 1934. A major league baseball icon, Aaron is best known for breaking Babe Ruth's home run record. Read more on Aaron.
For many black families with roots in the Southern US states, research can be frustrating. Although African American genealogy research can get back to the 1880s and much earlier, it is difficult for most researchers. Researching their family trees has been almost impossible, as their ancestors' original names were literally erased. Slaves' African given names were replaced by English names and their surnames were those of their owners.
With the advent of new databases and technological tools, research has become much easier. A growing number of individuals are preparing their family stories and discovering images of their unique history.
In 1977, a television miniseries changed the face of genealogy forever, as the largest ever viewing audience - some 130 million viewers - in television history watched Alex Haley’s “Roots.”
I was among those millions - fascinated by the story of Haley’s ancestor Kunta Kinte and his descendants - who saw it 35 years ago.
According to Haley's research, Kunta Kinte was an African from Jufferee in Gambia. Haley's family history reported that he was sold into slavery in a town called "Naplis."
His research found a slave ship, the Lord Ligonier, which saled from Gambia River on July 5, 1767, with 140 captured Gambians. The ship arrived in Annapolis, Maryland on September 29, 1767 - only 98 Gambians survived. Haley believed one survivor was Kunta Kinte, age 17. According to an advertisement in the Maryland Gazette, the Africans were sold into slavery on October 7.