Cluster research works. You will find more information about your ancestors if you study the lives of those in the community where they lived. I swear by this and I’ve discussed it here over and over again. No more is this clearer than with Civil War Pension Records. Don’t just check research your ancestors and […]
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Category: African-American History
These posts refer to particular events in African-American history.
Slave Surnames “To Save Their Lives”
Recently I came across a very poignant quote relating to slave surnames I just had to share. That’s a topic I have discussed here at Reclaiming Kin several times and one that has no easy or simple formula that applies to every situation. So, I often collect data on surnames as I research. While at […]
About That Mulatto…
We cannot assume that anyone marked “mulatto” in a census record had one white parent and one black parent. I have previously discussed that genealogists should know some of the instructions provided to enumerators, and that the changing definitions of race, since it is a social and not a biological construct, should tell us something. […]
Finding Sharecroppers in Deeds
As genealogists, it’s difficult to research people who were poor and marginalized. The lives of wealthier and more prominent people simply created more records. I’ve had many people say to me that they haven’t researched deed records because their ancestors did not own any land. However, in many cases, the types of agreements that sharecroppers […]
Freedmens Bureau Narrative Reports
Want to know a great way to find out about the lives of your enslaved ancestors after the end of the War? The narrative reports of the Freedmens Bureau. I have discussed the Bureau records numerous times in this blog. They are a critical resource for the tumultuous five years between 1865 and 1870. Genealogists […]
How Many Slaveowners Were in the South?
This is the third in a series of posts (see previous posts here and here) where I am asking us all to consider reevaluating some of our beliefs surrounding slavery. People everywhere like to make the point that: “Only one in three southerners held slaves.” Why do people say that? It’s often a part of […]
Teaching the Hard History of Slavery
This will be another long post. Sigh. The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report last week called “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery.” The Atlantic ran an article about the report. It’s a sobering read. For me, it was deeply disturbing, though not surprising. So much of what we suffer in this country is *directly* […]
The Long, Long Hold of Slavery
After emancipation, the vast majority of the 4 million newly freed slaves remained living near their former owners, if not working directly for them. Some did leave the area of their enslavement. They left with the Union Army, migrated to nearby cities for work or left in search of loved ones who had been sold. […]
What Did Slavery Look Like?
President Lincoln spent a lot of time studying the map above, created by the United States Coast Survey. The darker the shading, the higher the percentage of enslaved laborers. Slavery maps such as this and several new databases help us understand the experiences of enslaved ancestors. At a glance we can see the density in […]
The Complexity of Slave Surnames
Numerous historical sources confirm that enslaved people had surnames that they used among themselves and in many cases were known by their slaveholder. However, the common practice by slaveholders was to only use the given names of enslaved people in documents such as estate papers, court and deed records. This causes many researchers to […]