Black History Month good time to start your genealogy

Black History Month, already underway, is a good time to start researching your African-American ancestry, if you have not already.

There is no “magic” site that is going to open up your genealogy or family tree for black history any more than any other ethnicity. Records are records. The best sites to search for records created in the United States and the previous colonies are Ancestry.com (a subscription site, although libraries have free limited access), FamilySearch.org (free), and the numerous state archives sites, with focus on their state’s records, with content varying from state to state.

Family stories are important to record, not only for those researching now, but also for future generations who would want to know what Grandma might have to say about her family. Joining a local, usually county-based genealogical society, is helpful in getting to meet others who are into genealogy. The Metro-Atlanta Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society is worth joining for its monthly meetings/lectures and frequent seminars. See aahgsatl.org.

Sites that are more specific to African-American heritage include Emory University's Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, slavevoyages.org. The Freedmen's Bureau records recently have come online with an index. While touted as complete, those that worked on the indexing and have used this great Reconstruction-era source point out there is still more to be indexed and it's not as complete as reported. But there is a lot there, and one can search by community, county and state, and perhaps find groups of family members rather than looking for just one person or planter. See discoverfreedmen.org.

TOPIC: DNA SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP MEETS IN MARIETTA

Terry Barton will again host a DNA Special Interest Group (DNA-SIG) in 2017, sponsored by the Genealogy Society of Cobb County and the International Society of Genetic Genealogy. Meetings will be at the First Presbyterian Church, 189 Church St., Marietta on the third Tuesdays, February through October, at 7 p.m. Discussions are aimed at individuals who already understand the basics of DNA testing but some “newbie” questions are addressed at each meeting. See worldfamilies.net for more on Barton’s DNA advice, and links, as he is one of our local DNA experts.

TOPIC: ANCESTRY DNA ADDS OVER ONE MILLION

Ancestry.com’s DNA program sold 1.4 million DNA test kits during the fall quarter due to its aggressive advertising campaign. While it’s great to get that many new people into DNA testing, let’s hope they are interested in genealogy matches as well as their ethnic profile.

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P.O.Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.