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  • Writer's pictureDean Henry

Is African American Family Research Different?

The answer is Yes! And No! In some African American families, their ancestral stories read like a chapter out of Alex Haley's book Roots, complete with enslaved ancestors, multiple "slaveowners" for some ancestors, and enslavement up until the "official" end of slavery in the United States, following the U.S. Civil War. But it some families, African American ancestors come from a long line of free citizens, going back to the 18th or even 17th century. And what does it mean to be "African American" anyway. Africa is a continent, composed of numerous countries. Citizens of African continent descent are broadly labelled "African American", instead of "Nigerian American", or "Kenyan American".

These are some of the questions that I plan to explore during my talk at the Mainline Genealogy Club on February 10, from 1-3, entitled "African American Genealogy Basics - Illustrated". Due to Covid, this meeting will be held virtually on Zoom, which is good news because you can attend from virtually anywhere. I was asked to be a speaker during their February membership meeting, since this is the month that Black History Month is recognized, As such, I will intertwine family research techniques with history to illustrate how to conduct this specialty of research. To register for the presentation, you need to complete the Contact Us form on the Mainline Genealogy Club website. They will use this entry to send you a handout in advance, and the Zoom link for the meeting. The presentation is free, but they request a $5 donation to help defray the costs of the Club. Instructions on how to donate are provided with the advance communications.

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