Kinsearching September 30, 2012




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

     The seventeenth guide in the popular “Genealogy at a Glance” series pertains to a subject of interest to many family researchers hoping to confirm a family tradition. Cherokee Genealogy Research by Myra Vanderpool Gormley presents a basic history and information about resources pertaining to one of the largest Native American tribes.

     Following the standard format of the series, she condenses into four laminated pages an overview of fundamentals that genealogists need to know in order to achieve research successfully in the materials unique to the Cherokee Indians. In her “quick facts” section, Gormley points out that only three groups have official status according to the U. S. government: The Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees, both in Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina. However, not all Cherokees are members of a federally recognized group.

     She then furnishes an overview of Cherokee history and migrations. Her discussion devotes space to the “Trail of Tears,” the forced removal of all Cherokees from the southeastern U. S. to what is now northeastern Oklahoma in 1838/1839. Bringing the migration story into the twentieth century, she mentions the fact that many individuals moved elsewhere due to circumstances like the Great Depression in the 1930s and job availability during World War II.

     Like any other genealogical quest, traditional sources (censuses and vital, church, and military records) should be utilized before delving into specialized materials, such as tribal rolls, pertaining to Cherokees. As genealogists pursue information about their forebears, they may encounter such factors as surname problems (individuals may have used their English and Cherokee names at various times), intermarriages (especially with persons of Scottish, Irish, English, and German ancestry), mixed bloods (many couples never legalized their union), Cherokee freedmen (descendants of African American slaves owned by citizens of the Cherokee Nation), and Black Indians (the offspring of former slaves and tribal members). Because some Cherokees relinquished their tribal affiliation and membership, they are not listed on any of the tribal rolls; as a result, they may be more difficult to trace since the membership rolls are the best proof of Indian ancestry.

     Nearly half of the guide provides a synopsis of eighteen membership rolls, including the well-known Dawes, and censuses pertinent to Cherokee research. Details include the name, date, and purpose of the material as well as some miscellaneous comments about usage. At the end of several sections, Gormley supplies list of printed and/or online sources for further reference.

     Like the other items in the “Genealogy at a Glance” series, this publication manages to break down a vast amount of data about a specific topic into its key ingredients. Cherokee Genealogy Research is a compact guide that will be handy to use either at home or in research institution.

     To the guide's price of $8.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4.50 for one item and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $6.00 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional item. The guide (item order 2273) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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