Sunday, February 5, 2017

African American Research Tips

Don’t Overlook Year Books
World War I timeframe created a lot of movement across America.  It is a time African American ancestral researchers lose their ancestors thanks to massive migrations from the south, the railroad, and industrial cities.  You may have found Uncle James in the north in 1930, but where was the family in 1920?  Even if Grandpa settled in the industrial town in Ohio, it's possible that your information about him is limited. Perhaps you have uncovered from census records or death certificate his birth state, but what about his youth?

When we are at a loss, the a3Genealogy researchers often scour the “colored school” yearbooks. Sometimes we have to practically exhaust many counties before we uncover the family surname or relative. Sometimes we have to check neighboring counties, because the closest “colored” school was located miles away.  But, we want to offer a few additional tips to discovering your ancestors' past.

What Year Books?
We aren’t always talking school yearbooks.  Have you reviewed the Negro Year Book?  Tuskegee Institute, in Alabama, began gathering information for African Americans across the nation in 1913. They not only have names of persons, but also of pertinent businesses, and social history and race issues that may assist with your family research.
Negro Year Book:  Homes for Negro by State
A favorite resource in the Negro Year Book is the listing of Homes for the Care of Adults and Children Which Are for Negros or Admit Negroes. This listing includes the facilities for orphans, indigents, as well as women homes and may further your research. 

Please know that the institutions' records are scattered, but be sure to check county and state repositories and local county court houses and genealogical societies.  Some of the institutions had newsletters that provided names, updates, deaths, etc.  A few of these yearbooks may be found online.

School Yearbooks


Most researchers check the indices of school yearbooks for their ancestors’ names but we love the advertisements also.  These ads provide us with names, locations and photographs of ancestors.

The Knoxville Colored High School, The Echo, of 1928, is in the a3Genealogy library (donated by the Parker-Douglas Family of KCMO) and we were able to use it to further our research on Professor L. R. Cansler and a few of his students. The Professor was also named in the Negro Year Book allowing us to confirm and further our research project.

Of course, the bonus is your ancestor’s school picture may be uncovered.
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

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