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African American Family History

Recommended Reading & Viewing

Ancestry Academy Videos

These video courses and individual video lessons are available with both a paid or FREE subscription to A free subscription to does not require you to purchase any type of subscription.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars

Legacy Family Tree Webinars produces a regular series of quality educational webinars on a variety of genealogy topics, for all levels of experience. Live webinars are available free to the public. However, a subscription membership provides on-demand access to their robust library of previously recorded webinars and a copy of the presentation handout.

  • Monthly by Month Membership: $9.95/month
  • Annual Membership: $49.95/year
  • Single purchase (digital download): $9.95

Recommended Blogs


Recommended Books


Many conferences and institutes now include regular educational programming focusing on African American research.


Institutes & Conferences During the Pandemic

Most conferences and institutes starting in March 2020 flipped to all-virtual instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes 2021 a great time to attend one of these events from the convenience of home, and without the added costs and time for travel. It is uncertain if these events will return to in-person-only after it becomes safer for group gatherings and travel, or if they will move forward provided a mix of both in-person and virtual opportunities.

Genealogy Institutes

Research institutes are much more immersive experiences than a conference. Unlike conferences, institutes offer in-depth courses on a single topic that generally run one-week long, with all-day sessions. Institute courses are each taught by a team of instructors who specialize in that particular topic, and each session over the week builds in progression. These are not geared towards beginner genealogists.

Genealogy Conferences

Conferences are generally multi-day events that offer a breadth of lectures and workshop on different topics. These focus on every learning level, from beginner to advanced experience.

Recommended Strategies for Researching Formerly Enslaved Ancestors

How to Trace Your Ancestors as Slaves

Professional Genealogist and Black ProGen LIVE host Nicka Smith explains why the following collections are so critical to researching your formerly enslaved ancestors: Civil War pensions, the 1870 U.S. Census, deeds, probate files, and Freedmen's Bureau records.

Researching Enslaved People and Free People of Color

Although this video highlights collections at the Library of Virginia, the types of records discussed are relevant to researching enslaved ancestors and free black ancestors from anywhere in the U.S. It is important to note that while more of these important collections are becoming digitized and made available online, many are still only available on microfilm, and others are sill only available in paper format.

Documenting Enslaved Family Networks in Your Online Tree

Documenting and tracking formerly enslaved individuals can be challenging, because you need to research the slaveholder and their family, as well as your enslaved ancestors. Genealogy databases and online trees do not handle that challenge well out-of-the-box. The Beyond Kin Project has developed a way to accomplish this need. The examples shown in the following use an Ancestry Tree.


How to Create a Beyond Kin Family Tree

This video tutorial explains why and how to set up what is called a Beyond Kin family tree in your online tree or genealogy software. It uses a fugitive slave ad as the instruction example.

How to Add Slave Schedule Information to a Beyond Kin Tree

This video tutorial demonstrates how to add information from a U.S. Census slave schedule to a Beyond Kin online tree.

Recommended Speakers

There are many genealogy speakers who have expertise in African American research. Following is a list of those who appear nationally, and whose sessions I regularly attend anytime I can, whether virtually or in-person.