Kinsearching November 30, 2008




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     How do you begin investigating your African-American lineage? How do you proceed beyond the basics? How do you approach the unique challenges presented in African-American family research? What methods can be used to deal with dead ends and pitfalls in pre-Civil War era records? What strategies do you use to make the most of available documents and research time? Answers to these questions and many others can be found in the recent reprint of A GENEALOGIST'S GUIDE TO DISCOVERING YOUR AFRICAN-AMERICAN ANCESTORS by Franklin Carter Smith and Emily Ann Croom.

     First published in 2003, this handbook demonstrates how genealogists can gather and preserve their family's oral and social history, research basic records (the 1870 census, for example), utilize resources specific to African-Americans (the Freedmen's Bureau and Freedman's Bank records, for instance), and use and evaluate county and federal materials. The manual includes techniques for conducting successful research in slavery-era records and identifying your ancestors' slaveholders and their families. A chapter on "special situations" focuses on topics like free blacks before the Civil War, manumission documents, free black registers, tax rolls, urban free blacks, Native American connections, and immigrants who came to the U. S. as free persons from the Caribbean region. Case studies from various states and time periods tell the stories of real families whose lives were recorded in public records that genealogists can explore when tracing their own pedigrees.

     Icons along the sides of the text's paragraphs emphasize various points that the authors wish to make. By enticing the reader's attention, icons such as a magnifying glass, a light bulb, a file cabinet, and an eye alert individuals to research tips, idea generators, case studies, and additional information elsewhere in the text or in the appendices. Written in an easy-to-read and down-to-earth style, A GENEALOGIST'S GUIDE TO DISCOVERING YOUR AFRICAN-AMERICAN ANCESTORS offers useful ideas and sound advice to both beginning and experienced family researchers.

     The 250-page paperback has an attractive cover and contains an annotated table of contents; a foreword; charts, photographs, and reproductions of documents; five appendices; endnotes; a bibliography; and an index. To the book's price of $34.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.00 for one book or the first volume of a set and $2.50 for each additional copy or each additional volume of a set; for UPS, the cost is $7.00 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #5455) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953 (for phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

     Individuals who are researching Jewish lineages may be interested in two articles published recently. "The Mystery of the Crypto-Jews" is on pages 102-103 of the December 2008/January 2009 (Vol. 36, Nos. 11/12) issue of the Santa Fean magazine. Jason Silverman's article pertains to the history of and the controversy about the Crypto-Jews in New Mexico. (For more data about "secret Jews," also see Kinsearching column dated March 5, 2006.)

     Names of many Kansas Jews appear in the Fall 2008 (Vol. 28, No. 4) issue of the Great Plains Quarterly. Jay M. Price's article, "Jewish Community in Wichita, 1920-1970: Save Wagon, New Horses" can be found on pages 293-320. Some of the earlier Jewish surnames are KATZ, GLICKMAN, LEVAND, LEVITT, BEREN, FECHHEIMER, KOHN, WALLENSTEIN, WITROGEN, SPECTER, and MOLK. Surnames of later immigrants include MARCUS, COHEN, MOSES, PINCHUK, and NOVICK. Also mentioned in the article are some Lebanese families, such as FARHA, COHLIMIA, OJILE, and ABLAH, who came to Wichita about the same time as the Jewish families.

Kinsearching Home Page