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Public historian David E. Paterson studies people who lived in nineteenth-century Upson County, Georgia, especially those who experienced slavery and Reconstruction. A civilian employee of the US Navy by day, he spends his leisure hours researching and writing local history. David has helped manage the Slave Research Forum at AfriGeneas.com since about 2001. David emigrated to the U.S. in 1958 from Scotland and was granted U.S. citizenship in 1975. He lives in Norfolk, Virginia.
We will discuss the most fruitful probate records for slavery research in most states, for the period about 1800 to 1865. The discussion may be less useful for the colonial period, or for the records of Louisiana or Spanish colonial Florida whose laws and processes derived from different legal traditions. In addition, David will describe the process flow from one record to the next – the purpoe of each record – and what kinds of slavery-related information maybe found in the record. Particular attention will focus on records that are sometimes overlooked in guides or how-to books; especially annual returns and vouchers. Researchers may find records of a deceased slaveholder separated by many years – in cases when a “life estate” came back under supervision of the court as a “residual estate.” Finally we will show the connections and similarities between probate records and guardians’ records.
Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston
For black women in antebellum Charleston, freedom was not a static legal category but a fragile and contingent experience. A deeply researched social history, Forging Freedom reveals the ways in which black women in Charleston acquired, defined, and defended their own vision of freedom.
Drawing on legislative and judicial materials, probate data, tax lists, church records, family papers, and more, Myers creates detailed portraits of individual women while exploring how black female Charlestonians sought to create a fuller freedom by improving their financial, social, and legal standing. Examining both those who were officially manumitted and those who lived as free persons but lacked official documentation, Myers reveals that free black women filed lawsuits and petitions, acquired property (including slaves), entered into contracts, paid taxes, earned wages, attended schools, and formed familial alliances with wealthy and powerful men, black and white--all in an effort to solidify and expand their freedom. Never fully free, black women had to depend on their skills of negotiation in a society dedicated to upholding both slavery and patriarchy. Forging Freedom thus examines the many ways in which Charleston's black women crafted a freedom of their own design instead of accepting the limited existence imagined for them by white Southerners.
Amrita Chakrabarti Myers earned her doctorate in American History from Rutgers University. A historian of the black female experience, she is interested in race, gender, sexuality, rights, freedom, and citizenship and the ways in which these constructs intersect with one another in the lives of black women in the Old South. She is currently Associate Professor of History and Gender Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
Reclaiming Grimes: Author of the First Fugitive Slave Narrative
Oakland, California native, REGINA E. MASON, has spent fifteen years authenticating the pioneering narrative of her direct ancestor William Grimes—author of the first fugitive slave narrative in American history.
Not only is she the gate-keeper of her family’s history, she is also coeditor of the new edition of her forefather’s book Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave. In recognition of her work, the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society presented her the 2009 Herndon Lecturer award. She is currently working on the documentary Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes.
Dionne's search for her family history began at age 12, when she asked a simple question: Grandpa, are you white? Her grandfather’s answer sent her on a lifelong journey to piece together a family story and reveal a not uncommon but often untold part of American history. His grandparents were a slave named Tempy Burton and her master, Col. W. R. Stuart. Three decades after she first learned of this interracial, Civil War-era duo, she found another one of their descendants. Dionne's family’s history includes masters and slaves, Confederates and Senators, preachers and entertainers.
Dionne Ford is a freelance writer and M.F.A. candidate at New York University. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, More, Ebony and other publications. Her essay for MORE on her family’s history won two magazine awards. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters and blogs about her family's history at FindingJosephine.com.
Who Owned Solomon? A Case study of 19th Century African American Research– Many African American researchers struggle to break through the brick wall of slavery. This discussion will look at the strategies used by Janice Lovelace to identify her ancestors’ slave-owners through the use of military, land, probate and court records.
Janice Lovelace, Ph.D. a genealogist who primarily lectures and writes on health, genetics, research methodology and her ethnic minority heritage, lives and lectures primarily in the West. A licensed psychologist (with an undergraduate degree in Biology), she recently retired from 30 years of tenured college teaching in the social sciences, including women’s studies and American Cultural studies. Janice is a member of APG, GSG, AAGHS and several local societies.
Prior to the Civil War, Alexandria, Virginia had a large freed African American and slave population who contributed a lot to the community and to the United States. Each one of these groups helped build Alexandria, Virginia through their skilled labor, involvement in politics, teachers, churches, businessmen and etc. The history of Alexandria, Virginia cannot be told without including these African Americans.
Char is posting blogs every two weeks on African American people in the 19th century that made a difference in the History of Alexandria, Virginia at http://theotheralexandria.com.
Char McCargo Bah is the CEO/Owner of FindingThingsforU, LLC. She has been a genealogist since 1981; appeared on numerous television interviews with CBS, FOX-5, Comcast, Public Broadcasting Services just to name a few and documentaries. She has also received numerous awards in 2014, 2013, 2010, and in 2009 for her work in genealogy. Char became a 2014 Living Legend in Alexandria, VA. She was the City of Alexandria’s genealogist on the Alexandria Freedmen and Contraband Cemetery. She is doing an advance study in genealogy at the University of Toronto and is co-author of “African Americans of Alexandria, VA: Beacons of Light in the Twentieth Century.”
Did you know that the majority of Freedmen's Bureau records are now digitized and available online for free, as well as the records of other institutions that served newly-freed African Americans during Reconstruction? Angela Walton-Raji and Toni Carrier have built a new website called "Mapping the Freedmen's Bureau - An Interactive Research Guide" (www.mappingthefreedmensbureau.com) to assist researchers in locating and accessing records of the Freedmen's Bureau, Freedmen's hospitals, contraband camps and Freedman's Bank branches. Researchers can use the website's interactive map to learn which of these services were located near their area of research interest. If the records are online, the map provides a link to the records that tell the stories of newly-freed former slaves in the American south. The goal of this mapping project is to provide researchers, from the professional to the novice, a useful tool to more effectively tell the family story, the local history and the greater story of the nation during Reconstruction.
Angela Walton-Raji is an author, genealogist, guest lecturer and producer of the weekly African Roots Podcast and Toni Carrier is the Founder of LowcountryAfricana, a free website dedicated to African American genealogy and history in SC, GA and FL.
Have you had your DNA tested and don't know what to do or say to your newly discovered relatives?
Corresponding and conversing with unknown relatives found via DNA testing can present family members and genealogists with as many challenges as opportunities. Learn how to initiate a fruitful dialogue, double response rates, and clear a path to genealogical discovery with these tried-and-true communication techniques.
Join Shannon Christmas to discuss what you may need to say and do to take your DNA results to the next level. Communications is key to getting the answers to many of your DNA questions.
Join Genealogist Jim W. Petty for a discussion of his research on Black Slavery Emancipation Research in the Northern States and learn about the four categories of records that provide genealogical data on enslaved people in Northern states before the Civil War.
Beginning in 2010, Jim became interested in African American Genealogy Studies upon following client genealogy into the Slave culture of Rhode Island. Upon learning about the concept of Slavery in all States in America, and the eventual “gradual emancipation” of Black Slaves in each of the Northern States, he realized that a product of the emancipation movement was the creation of Slave birth records from as early as 1777, and continuing until national emancipation in 1865. These records led to the keeping of other records relating to African Americans in the Northern States, which will hopefully become a resource for researchers throughout the United States.
Currently Jim has been collecting and abstracting Slave Birth Records for the State of New Jersey from 1804 to 1865, with the goal of publishing his findings during the 2015-2016 sesquicentennial of Slave Emancipation in the U.S. (1865-1866).
Jim has a degree in Genealogy Technology from Brigham Young University, and has been certified as a Genealogist and a Genealogy Records Searcher by the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (1984-2015), and accredited by the International Commission for the Accreditation of Genealogists (1972-2015).
Based on the genealogy blog Reclaiming Kin, this new publication includes over 200 pages of some of the best posts from the blog arranged in the following chapters: (1) Records and Resources, (2) Evidence Analysis, (3) Slave Research, (4) Research Tips and (5) Robyn’s Family Research. There is something of value here for all genealogists, whether you consider yourself a beginner or an intermediate/advanced level research, no matter the geographical location or time period and no matter your race or ethnicity.
Robyn N. Smith
Robyn has been researching her family and others for 18 years. An engineer by day, Robyn applies those research and problem-solving skills to the field of genealogy. She specializes in Maryland research, African-American and slavery research and court records. Robyn has a strong interest in promoting the documentation of communities and emphasizing the use of proper genealogical standards. Robyn teaches an Advanced African-American Genealogy class part-time at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD. She also lectures and writes about family history research. She is also the author of a genealogy blog called Reclaiming Kin which can be viewed at http://www.reclaimingkin.com, and the author of the book “The Best of Reclaiming Kin,” which is available for purchase at the website.
Join my special guest Phyllistene Lawson for a discussion of her book Quilt of Souls. Quilt of Souls is a memoir that represents the author's childhood, her loving grandmother, and an old, tattered quilt that tells the untold stories that have long since been hushed. A quilt sewn with the used clothing of her grandmother's loved ones. Each piece of fabric woven into the quilt tells stories of how that person lived and died. Tragic stories of pain and suffering threaded back together with each healing stitch of perseverance and courage. Grandma Lula Horn (1883-1986) was like many other grandmothers of her era, a pioneer, and a symbol of hope who found alternative ways to soften the horrors of racism and bigotry.
Ms. Lawson completed her military career in 2013. Prior to her completing 20 years of military service, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Ms. Lawson is married with two sons and five Granddaughter’s and currently reside in Florida.
Leslie Anderson will discuss how to apply the classic strategy of information-gathering to your research so that you can write a robust family history. She will explain how customized timelines, resource guides, and locality guides can help you with your writing.
Leslie's research began with one question: "Where was my great-grandfather born?" The answer (and the analysis) culminated in an article that won the 2013 National Genealogical Society Family History Writing Contest. The four-generation narrative "Tabitha (Bugg) George Smith (1838 - ca 1890) of Mecklenburg County, Virginia" was published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (March 2015). "It was over 20 pages with more than 10,000 words and 200 citations."
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