African American Biography
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).
Slave Narratives. In the 1930s over 3,500 typescript interviews of former slaves were compiled by the WPA. See:
- Library of Congress' free site that indexes 2,300 narratives in Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project.
- Ancestry.com's ($) subscription site of 3,500 slave narratives in Slave Narratives, or free at selected libraries in Slave Narratives.
- Howard E. Potts, A Comprehensive Name Index for the American Slave (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997)(FHL book 973 F22p).
- University of North Carolina's free site North American Slave Narratives.
- The History Makers, Chicago, has short biographical sketches of African American leaders.