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It’s been a while…..

Life has, once again, taken me off-line and out of touch with my wonderful hobby. I do, however, peel a few minutes away every now and then. In one of those precious moments, I came across a great potential resource for researchers of African American ancestry that I’d like to share.

Tom MacEntee over at GeneaBloggers runs quite a few inspirational theme ideas for other family history bloggers. One of his recent ones is called, “Friend of Friends Friday”. The premise is this:

“if you have encountered records of enslaved ancestors, whether they are your own ancestors or not, make it a point to transcribe those records and get them posted on the Internet via your blog.”

WHAT A GREAT IDEA!  There is simply no repository of this kind of information and no replacement of it as a resource to peek behind the shroud of slavery before 1870.  Of course its not indexed, comprehensive or, in some cases, written to be very useful for researchers.  But it is a start.  I’ve attached the Google reader RSS URL here.  Enjoy and check out some of the other great ideas Tom and his friends have come up with over time.  There’s also a special section on African American blogs as well.

 

FL & TN Collections

I’ve been researching my family history for quite some time (mostly online which I plan to change in the near future) and one of the most frustrating moments for me is when I come across a GREAT database or index for Oregon…..or Delaware…..or some other state/locality that I’m certain my ancestors never saw.  It was one of those moments recently that gave me this idea.

The vast majority of my research is centered around two states; Florida and Tennessee.  I’ve collected hundreds of pieces of information when I’ve come across one of these online gems that happens to cover my family’s slice of the world.  Going forward, every time I find one, I’m going to post the link here so that others might stumble across this information about our place in the world.  You’ll find these collections on the tab above or by clicking here.

Wow!

For me, truthfully, documentaries about African American genealogy begin and end with African American Lives 1 & 2. I didn’t really get into NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are” during its first run. This year, one of the show’s (which premieres February 4th at 8pm/7 C) first celebs is Vanessa Williams. As it turns out Ms. Williams family history yields some genealogical gems worthy of prime time television:

a visit to the national archives

She had me at “United States Colored Troops”, so I guess I’ll be watching……

UPDATE: Really, really good stuff!  I’ll be watching every Friday (or at least on DVR)!

Tools I Use

I’m going to start a new feature here at Timeless Reunion called Tools I Use.  I’ll state upfront that I receive NO compensation nor am I endorsing any product….but these are research tools that I wouldn’t do without.

I am a Legacy Family Tree user.  I think its a great program and it helped me start this hobby with minimal investment by offering a free standard version.  Legacy has a lively, often rambunctious, User Group (LUG).  A few months ago, one of the users began sharing a series of small programs that really added tremendous value to the research process.  One of those tools was Census Finder.

As most of the genealogy databases do, Legacy allows you to connect an event to an individual when you are researching their life milestones.  For example, my grandfather can be found in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census records.  In Legacy, this creates three separate “event” records (now there’s a whole ongoing debate at LUG having to do with lumpers and splitters and I’m not going into that here).  I use Census Finder to read the Legacy database and provide a report showing, at a glance, whether an individual in your databases is missing a census record.  This is extremely helpful when I’m in the mood to fill in the blanks in my research and will be a terrific tool when the 1940 US census becomes available to distinguish which ancestors you’ve found in your research. Great tool!

Inspiration

A few years ago when I started this wonderfully obsessive hobby, I became very frustrated with the difficulty I was having documenting the first generation beyond my grand-parents.  I mean, these were people that lived during my lifetime in some cases; but woefully little documentation (let alone pictures) where available for me to put my hands on.  Now, if you’ve visited my little space in the world here, you know that I got over it.  In fact, recently I documented my 1,000th direct relative.

Pushing ahead through the frustration was due, in no small part, to my old friend Dr. H.L. Gates.  I became an avid fan, and purchaser of African American Lives I and II.  What encouraged me beyond the fascinating stories and details of lives long past was the fact that, even with extensive research time, funding and dozens of professional genealogists, sometimes there are just ‘blanks’ on your pedigree chart.  There just are… and it doesn’t mean you are a bad researcher or something is wrong with your family.  It simply means you haven’t turned over the right rock…..yet.

Well, it seems Dr. Gates is at it again…. and this time he’s tackling genealogy beyond black folks.

I’ll certainly be watching, and I hope others are similarly inspired.  In case anyone visiting here hasn’t seen AAL I or II, here’s a pre-view of II to get you inspired to watch….

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