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.
Do you have an address book? Have you inherited an old address book from your parents or grandparents? This is almost as good as discovering an ancestor's journal.
Will Kenny, wrote a post for Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) - Address book is a family history, bound by tradition - in which he writes:
....And this annual ritual recently reminded us of a big difference between pulling out a physical, paper address book and pulling up a contact list.
These days, if you keep your contact list on your phone or your computer, you live very much in the present. When you update an entry in your electronic contact list, you just edit the information. You replace the old with the new.
And when people are no longer connected to you, whether you somehow lose touch or they pass away, you merely delete them from your list, and from your life. At the same time, you delete a piece of your own personal history.
Diane Richards wrote a great blog post in Upfront (the National Genealogical Society blog) on her own use of these hand-written resources for family history, who writes that she is on her third one (begun in December 1998). Earlier ones now live in her "memory boxes." She also shows examples from her latest address book.