United States Minorities

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Introduction

It is important to learn the history of the ethnic, racial, and religious groups your ancestors belonged to. For example, you might study a history of the Irish in New York or Huguenot immigration to the United States. Some people have American Indian ancestors. Many people came to America as indentured servants or as slaves. This historical background can help you identify where your ancestors lived and when they lived there, where they migrated, the types of records they might be listed in, and other information to help you understand your family's history.

Minorities usually appear in the same records as other Americans, so search for members of minority groups in the same records you would search for anyone else. Then search for additional records of a particular minority.

For most minorities in the United States, some unique records and resources are available. These include histories, newspapers, and periodicals (such as The Swedish-American Historical Quarterly). In addition, various local and national societies have been organized to gather, preserve, and share the cultural contributions and histories of many groups. Some examples are the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in Philadelphia and the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Minorities in States

Information about minorities in the respective states will be found under pages entitled [state] Minorities or under [state] Ethnic Group Records, as in Idaho Minorities or Illinois Ethnic Group Records. Wikipedia also containes valued information as to Minorities and States.

African Americans

See African American Genealogy.

Jewish

Holocaust Survivors and Witnesses' Testimonies - University of Southern California's Shoah Foundation Institute has a searchable index of 52,000 video interviews conducted with survivors and their families in 56 countries. You can view samples of some interviews and locate institutions which provide access to full interviews

Under the heading “JEWS” you can find this excellent handbook: Kurzweil, Arthur. From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Personal History. New York, New York: William Morrow, 1980. (Family History Library book FHL|202019|title-id|disp=929.1 K967f}}; film 1055468 item 4.)

See United States Jewish Research and Jewish Genealogy Research.

Spanish

Index to the Enciclopedia Heráldica Hispano-Americana of Alberto and Arturo García Carraffa - The work treats Spanish heraldry in the first two volumes, and with volume three begins the Diccionario Heráldico y Genealógico de Apellidos Españoles y Americanos, or a listing of over 15,000 names with their respective genealogical histories (with color illustrations of representative crests) of Spanish and Spanish-American families.

Polish

Polish Genealogical Society of America

Danish

The Danish American Archive and Library
1738 Washington Street
Blair, Nebraska
Telephone: (402) 426-7910
The collection consists of books, recordings, photographs, and unpublished written materials relating to the people of Danish extraction in North America.

Maps

References

Brief histories, addresses of societies, periodicals, handbooks, and other resources for minority research are available. The Family History Library and most large libraries have books like the following:

NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into the FamilySearch Wiki and is being updated as time permits.

In the FamilySearch Catalog, look for published histories and other minority records in these searches:

In the Place Search, see [STATE] - MINORITIES.

In the Subject Search, look for:

  • The name of the minority, such as BLACKS, AFRO-AMERICANS, JEWS, AMERICAN LOYALISTS, ITALIANS - NEW YORK, or QUAKERS.
  • Handbooks on how to research specific groups (such as Czech, German, Hispanic, Indian, Irish, Polish, etc.). For example under the heading “POLES - UNITED STATES,” you can find a book called Polish Genealogy & Heraldry.