Tracing your family’s roots may seem like a daunting and maybe even impossible task. Many black families have migrated a lot, have ghost family members and have documented histories that may not be easily accessible. But these hurdles have not stopped several African Americans, such as Morgan Freeman, Vanessa Williams, 50 Cent, Maya Angelou, Chris Rock, and Tina Turner from delving into their family histories and discovering more about their heritage. Even if you don’t have huge amounts of money or time to spend on advanced methods for tracing genealogy, there are four steps that can move you closer toward your family’s roots:
1. At this summer’s family reunion or cookout, actually take the time to talk to the older members of your family. It would be a good idea to record or write down a list of aunts and uncles, cousins, great aunts and uncles, great grandparents, etc. and to ask questions about your family’s history.
For tips, visit: FamilySearch.org
2. Take advantage of online services that help you build your family tree. All you have to do is input information like birth and death dates, residences, spouses, etc. These sites contain census records, directories, documents, and fellow users that can help you connect with potential family members.
FamilySearch.org (free service)
Ancestry.com (subscription service)
HeritageQuestOnline (subscription service)
3. DNA testing is good for more than finding out who the father is. Testing kits can use your DNA to determine maternal and paternal lineages, possibly tracing your roots back to specific African tribes, European countries, and beyond!
4. If you visit Genealogical Societies, State Archives, or their websites to learn more about your family lineage, be prepared to search through tons documents like wills, deeds, slave records, and such that can lead you closer to your roots.
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