Blair Underwood’s journey to his family roots

Actor Blair Underwood will take a journey to the past when he traces his family roots as part of TV show. The former Petersburg resident is starring on the next episode of the genealogy documentary series "Who Do You Think You Are?" - which airs Friday night on NBC. On his Facebook page, Underwood recently wrote how much he had learned from being on the show. "I discovered some amazing things about myself and family that I've never imagined," he wrote. Last September, the film and TV star - whose last major role was as president of the United States in the NBC sci-fi series "The Event" - … [Read more...]

Initiative aims to find lost grave sites of slaves

For decades, the stretch of grassy land in an elbow of the Mississippi River held no trace of the people buried underneath. No signs, markers or tombstones pointed to the more than 300 African-American former slaves buried in two cemeteries about 20 miles west of New Orleans. Only a handful of people knew they ever existed, despite their being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the land, and local historians are reaching out to descendants of the deceased and planning a memorial at the grave sites commemorating the lives and … [Read more...]

Webinar – African American Genealogy – Migrations and Manuscripts

Thursday Evening, February 16, 2012 WEBINAR - 7:00 until 8:30 PM With Presenters Jim Ison, AG, CG, and Deborah Abbott, Ph.D. :                   Migration Patterns: An Alternative for Locating African Origins Jim Ison will discuss how DNA testing has become the only option for many in learning about African origins. As popular as DNA is in providing clues to ancestral origins, there are limitations to what can be learned using DNA tests. Learn major migration patterns of millions of African Americans … [Read more...]

Long-lost identities of slaves uncovered in old Virginia papers

A historical society in Virginia, where slavery began in the American colonies in 1619, has discovered the identities of 3,200 slaves from unpublished private documents, providing new information for today's descendants in a first-of-its-kind online database, society officials say. Many of the slaves had been forgotten to the world until the Virginia Historical Society received a $100,000 grant to pore over some of its 8 million unpublished manuscripts -- letters, diaries, ledgers, books and farm documents from Virginians dating to the 1600s -- and began discovering the long-lost identities … [Read more...]

Vanderbilt Group Preserves Deteriorating Slave Records

There are thousands of pages of names, places and people that are disappearing by the second. "Right as we're talking, we're losing things," said Vanderbilt history professor Jane Landers who has been working to stop it for a decade. "As if it's a broken piece of pottery and you have to put things back together." Landers and her team have been to country after country photographing every page they're allowed to. Many come from churches, and are possibly the only way to track slaves brought to Central and South America from Africa. Read More … [Read more...]

Tale of forbidden love preserved by historical marker in San Jacinto County

A fascinating love story is behind the latest historical marker that has been dedicated in San Jacinto County, a fitting occasion to mark the 50th anniversary of the current Official Texas Historical Marker program. It’s the story of William “Bill” Kelley, a white man, former slave plantation overseer and confederate soldier, and Dinah Rush, described as a “mulatto” freed slave. In spite of their differences, this unlikely pair withstood hardship, racism, and a world that would never accept their relationship. Read More … [Read more...]

Woman reclaims neglected slave cemetery from Sanford woods

A small band of volunteers is working to restore a Lee County cemetery that dates to the early 1800s and contains the graves of hundreds of slaves. The burial ground, near the Buffalo Presbyterian Church on Carthage Street, had fallen into disrepair in recent decades and was gradually overtaken by ivy and a pine forest. "It just hurt my heart," said Lisa Martin Sanders, who stumbled upon the cemetery last April. Sanders and her aunt were looking for the grave of W.B. Wicker, who founded a school in Sanford many years ago. They wandered the area for a couple hours before peering into … [Read more...]

Halifax County woman makes connection to ancestors

Many African-Americans living in Halifax County today are descendents of slaves, but most have a hard time tracing their family’s history. The institution of slavery disconnected many African-Americans from their heritage leaving descendents to wonder where they came from and who are their ancestors. County resident Margaret Sutphin Waajid, who lives on Sutphin Road in South Boston, doesn’t have to wonder about her lineage any more. After many years of researching her family’s history, Waajid has made a connection to many of her ancestors. Read More … [Read more...]

‘Listen To The Ancestors’ For African-American History Month

Judith Collins has a secret. She “listens to the ancestors,” an instinct that has helped this African-American woman from San Leandro trace her lineage back eight generations, to before the abolition of slavery. “The ancestors lead you to every avenue because they want to be remembered, they don’t want to be forgotten,” Collins said. As African American History Month gets underway, her experience illustrates how families can unravel the stories of their pasts. Read More … [Read more...]

Slave database coming to Hampton History Museum

An online database created by the Virginia Historical Society now includes close to 3,500 documents that outline the murky details of thousands of slaves who lived in and around Virginia. Last month, the Richmond-based organization launched the database detailing the biographical data of enslaved Virginians, some of which includes family relationships, occupations and life dates. Lauranett L. Lee, curator of African history for the Virginia Historical Society, will host a workshop on Monday, Feb. 6 at the Hampton History Museum to teach attendees about the database and its uses. Read … [Read more...]