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Black Genealogy Resources

The third section, lists and collections, contain both free access and restricted access databases, and may contain some resources that exist in other sections or lists. If you would like to suggest a resource for this page, please fill out this form.

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A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors: How to Find and Record Your Unique Heritage

A well-formatted 2003 book. In addition to tips and strategies it also includes maps and case studies. Some of the strategies are outdated, however, because some of the records they mention (ex. the US census) are now freely available online and easily searchable. This book is available online on The Internet Archive website.

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BitterSweet: Linked Through Slavery

A working group of writers and readers who are members of Linked Descendants working group of Coming to the Table (CTTT). “Linked descendants” are the descendants of both enslaved people and enslavers. There are resources and blog posts about supporting African-American research and healing.

Black Genesis: A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy

This is an excellent guide to genealogy resources in every US state with accompanying historical context. The version linked is the 2003 edition which is available online on The Internet Archive website.

Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (a.k.a. The Freedmen’s Bureau)

The Freedmen’s Bureau (1865-1872) was formed to primarily help former slaves and refugees. The Bureau assisted with relief efforts related to education, health care, food and shelter, legalizing marriages, banking, labor contracts, securing back pay and bounty payments, and pensions for soldiers and sailors. Bureau records are available to view on the US National Archives website. Some subcollections have a searchable index on FamilySearch and The Freedmen’s Bureau Online. You will have to manually search the images of scanned documents for the rest. The Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau website shows where each field office was located as well as other locations that served former slaves.

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Freedmen’s Bureau Search Portal

Hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution, the Freedmen’s Bureau Search Portal aims to digitize all of the Freedmen’s Bureau records and make them searchable. You can help transcribe records via the website.

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International African American Museum’s Center for Family History

Based in Charleston, South Carolina, the International African American Museum is built upon the former site of Gadsden’s Wharf, one of the most prolific slave trading ports in American history. In addition to onsite events, classes, and seminars, they provide research help and access to records online through their Center for Family History. Note: their link to records for free people of color is incorrect. The correct link is this one.

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Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery

A collection of historical newspaper ads by former slaves searching for relatives and loved ones after Emancipation. Visitors can also help with transcribing ads.

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Race and Slavery Petitions Project

This is a searchable database of information related to slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color gathered from legislative and court petitions for all slaveholding states and Washington D.C. (1775 to 1867). It’s hosted by The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This site is part of the Digital Library on American Slavery.

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Slavery and Remembrance

Aims to increase understanding of our shared global past shaped by slavery and the slave trade. A collaboration between UNESCO’s Slave Route Project, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and various sites and museums throughout the world.


A very large collection of records related to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade compiled by scholars throughout the world. Includes a database that provides information about over 100,000 enslaved people. It is currently being hosted by Rice University.

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Tracing African Roots New!

A blog about exploring your African roots. Includes information about DNA and DNA testing sites, charts and documents related to the African diaspora, and many links to external resources.

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The US National Archives African-American History Collection

The National Archives has a collection of records, blogs, and articles relating to African-American history.


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American Ancestors’ African-American Family History Resources

The New England Historic Genealogical Society runs the American Ancestors website. It has a section specifically for African-American genealogy resources. Their free resources include guides, databases, and webinars. The scope of these resources covers the entire US. Their paid options include access to more resources and a discount on items in their store.

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Our Black Ancestry

Offers a black history timeline and research articles for free. Members gain the ability to join others in their research, share DNA results, and access a database of slaveholder and a database descendants of slave owners willing to help.

Lists and Collections

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African American Funeral Programs (1960 to present)

This is a collection of nearly 700 full-text funeral programs held by the Evans County Community Center in Claxton, Georgia. Scans of the actual programs are available. The collection is hosted by the Digital Library of Georgia (an initiative of the University of Georgia Libraries).

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A very large collection of databases related to the slave trade (1,110,968 records so far).

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FamilySearch: African-American Genealogy Resources

A list of collections and strategies, and resources to aid your research.

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Researching Slavery and the Slave Trade

A list of some common databases on the list as well as specialized ones hosted by Brown University.

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ThoughtCo: 10 Databases for Researching Enslaved Ancestors

A good list of databases.

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Yale Slavery and Abolition Portal

A very large list of internal and external databases related to slavery and abolition.

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