Know Your Roots

By Brown, Ann | Black Enterprise, October 1999 | Go to article overview

Know Your Roots


Brown, Ann, Black Enterprise


Suggestions on how you can trace your family tree

Are you interested in researching our family's roots? If so, you're not alone. Genealogy is the second fastest-growing hobby in the U.S., points out John Logan, co-founder of the African-American Genealogy Group of Philadelphia (AAGG). Here are some suggestions on how you can get started:

"Start with yourself," notes Barbara Dodson Walker, national president of the Afro American Historical Genealogical Society. She recommends you record whatever information you can about your family. Then ask each family member to write down as much history as they can. You'll want to know parents' names and dates and places of marriages and deaths.

Research one side of your family at a time, says David A.G. Johnson Jr., a New York City high school teacher who also teaches genealogy workshops. You should speak to any family member who had a relationship with deceased relatives. "I grew up with my grandmother, who passed history down to me," Johnson explains. "I may know more than the oldest living person in my family."

Participating in workshops or genealogy groups is also important because they allow for an exchange of information and techniques, Johnson contends. His next set of workshops will be offered in the spring at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture (212-491-2200) in New York. If you're looking for a national genealogical organization, consult any one of the 23 chapters of the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society (202-234-5350 or log on to www. …

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