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)!

Brick Wall #4525

I’ve been actively researching my family’s history now since 1999. In the early days, every day yielded a new path, new treasure or new finding that got me up out of my seat. In the years since that time, “brick walls” spring up routinely and breakthroughs become fewer and farther between.  That’s why when something new comes along, the happy dance is twice as sweet. A few posts ago, I referenced the familyhistory.org site and the databases therein. Well, this morning it delivered again. Although I signed up for a site membership a while ago, I usually search without logging in. HUGE mistake! I logged in this morning and to my surprise, not only was the tennessee, Death Records, 1914-1955 indexed, but copies of the actual death certificates were scanned and available for download! I was able to find an actual document for dozens of my ancestors in Rutherford County
including Hillary Brown. Loads of information are contained on these pages! As for brick wall #4525…. Hillary’s certificate CONFIRMED his parents as William & Fannie Brown.  What’s the big deal you might ask?!? Well, my first real record of Hillary and Bettie is the 1870 census record.  Because they were born as slaves, they weren’t named in any government record prior to that. Family lore always suggested that Hillary was raised by his older brother Booker (well documented on this site). Maybe; but the death certificate listing of his parents tells me that Hillary and his family knew exactly who their ancestors were, even 60+ years later.

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