Are you searching for your African-American ancestors? Check out this article…
Over the past few years that we’ve been writing this column, we’ve encountered numerous people who have reached the “brick wall” of emancipation when researching their African-American ancestors. They are stymied by the fact that before the end of the Civil War, enslaved African Americans were rarely recorded by name in documents of any kind, making the tracing of their antebellum ancestry nearly impossible. Unfortunately, they were considered to be the property of white slave owners, and that’s how they were treated in wills, deeds, account and probate records, as well as census enumerations.
Even free people of color were often neglected in public records before emancipation, making them difficult to trace.
Difficult, but it’s not completely out of the question. After all, we wouldn’t have a column if there weren’t ways to push beyond the wall.
Among the tips we have for tracing black ancestors before emancipation:
* Find out as much as you can about your ancestors immediately after the end of the Civil War in 1865 and then work your way backward in time.
Tracing Your Roots: Our partner organization, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, has pulled together these tips for finding black ancestors.
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