African American Biography

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Biographies provide useful genealogical information such as an individual’s birth date and place (including foreign birthplaces where applicable); family members; occupation and education; and social, political, and religious affiliation. They may also contain a physical description of the person, his or her previous residences, and immigration information. Biographies are the product of family knowledge or previous research compiled about early settlers and prominent citizens of the state, county, or town. Many lesser-known individuals may have biographical sketches written about them in local histories.

You will find many biographies in the biographical sections of statewide, regional, and county histories.

The following resources are available at the Family History Library:

  • Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction, Hallie Q. Brown, New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988 (FHL book 973 D3hom).
  • Pride of Family: Four Generations of American Women of Color, Carole Ione, New York, New York: C. Ione, 1991 (FHL book 921.73 Io6p).
  • Black Biographical Dictionaries 1790-1950, Randal K. Burkett, nancy Hall Burkett, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds., Alexandria, Virginia: Chadwyck-Healy, Inc., [198-] (FHL book 973 F2bbd).
  • African American Biographies : Profiles of 558 Current Men and Women, Walter L. Hawkins, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 1992 (FHL book 973 F26h).
  • Black Women in America : An Historical Encyclopedia, Darlene Clark Hine, Brooklyn, New York: Carlson Pub., 1993 (FHL book 973 F26b).
  • Notable Black American Women, Jessie Carney Smith, ed., Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1992 (FHL book 973 D36nbw).

Many presentations from the recent AAHGS (Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society) conference will soon be freely available for video streaming and downloading. These include the following:

  • Dr. Quintard Taylor, Jr., Author and Professor of American History, University of Washington
    Presentation: Roots West: African American History in the Trans-Mississippi West
  • Mary Hill, Author and accredited genealogist for Southern and Eastern States
    Presentation: Finding Records of Your Ancestors: 1870 to Present
  • Beth Wilson, Reference librarian for land records, African-American genealogy, and documentation research
    Presentation: Trails Back: Tracing Ancestors in Slavery through Census, Probate, and Land Research
  • Dr. Spencer Crew, Director of the National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.
    Presentation: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: Activities and Accomplishments
  • Angela Walton Raji, Author and avid African–Native American genealogist
    Presentation: Beyond the Dawes Rolls: Black Indian Ancestry East of the Mississippi
  • Adele Marcum, Professional genealogist and content specialist
    Presentation: Where Should I Start? Beginning Research on
  • Howard Dodson, Chief, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library
    Presentation: To be announced

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