Resources for African American Genealogy

There are plenty of online resources for genealogists who are searching for information about their African American ancestors. If you are new to this, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin. Here is a quick list of some of the best resources to start with.

The Freedmen’s Bureau Project
The Freedman’s Bureau Project contains the names of nearly 1.8 million men, women and children that are now searchable online. This resource also contains images that have been indexed. The records come from The Freedmen’s Bureau that was established to help transition newly freed people from slavery to citizenship after Emancipation freed nearly 4 million slaves.

African Ancestry
African Ancestry uses the world’s largest database of African DNA lineages to determine your country and ethnic group of origin. They sell DNA test kits in which a person provides a sample of their DNA via a cheek swab. The results you receive will indicate a specific African country and a specific ethnic group (instead of a broad region of Africa or a percentage of ethnicity).

FamilySearch African American Genealogy Records
FamilySearch African American Genealogy Records provides free access to their collections of black family history records. Those records include military, census, vital records, slave ownership records, and bank records. In addition, FamilySearch has a collection of Freedman’s Bureau Records that you can search through. The title of each set of records includes a description of what they are and the years they correspond to. and AncestryDNA is a popular genealogy website that requires a subscription. (They also offer a temporary free trial.) has collections African American records including: Census, Military, Slave Records, and Other Records (such as bank accounts, newspapers from the Library of Congress, U.S. Freedmen’s Bureau records, and more.

AncestryDNA sells DNA tests that can show you where your family likely came from, including nine distinct regions across Africa. The test requires a saliva sample.

The 1870 Census
The 1870 Census has been described as “the starting – or end – point for African American genealogical research.” This is because you are most likely to connect yourself to your ancestors who were alive when that census was taken. Getting beyond the 1870 Census can sometimes be difficult, which is another reason why the 1870 Census is recommended as a good starting point.

Related Articles at

* African American Images, Etc.

* African American Research Site

* Volunteers Index More than 1 Million Freedman’s Bureau Records

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