To commemorate Black History Month in February, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has assembled a wealth of information in a single portal on its data rich website, offering important resources to the researcher of African American ancestry. The portal, located at AmericanAncestors.org/ AfricanAmerican, features a NEHGS webinar and study guide about African American genealogy, and hints concerning researching African American and other minorities in online databases, as well as beautifully illustrated articles on several important African American historical figures, culled from the vast manuscript collection at NEHGS.
Starting February 1, 2016, users of AmericanAncestors.org may access several African American databases free in order to get a sample of the variety of information to be found in the collection of African American resources at NEHGS. Among them is a large database Free Negro Heads of Families in the United States in 1830, a list compiled from the 1830 census. It contains the name, age range, family size, and county and state residence of 47,300 individuals in 27 states and one territory— a valuable source of records on free African Americans in that period.
Researching African American ancestors can be one of the most challenging tasks in the field of American genealogy. Creative searching methods must be utilized, requiring a thorough understanding of slave and freeman record keeping and notations in the earliest years of the settlement of America, and of name registration and documentation of vital statistics after emancipation in 1863.
There are hundreds of resources available at NEHGS to assist family historians with researching African American ancestors: from published genealogies to local histories, Bible, cemetery, and court records, original manuscripts and rare documents to many online databases on AmericanAncestors.org. NEHGS’s collection of guides and how-to books concerning African American genealogy hold important clues to solving family mysteries in research. NEHGS, the oldest and largest family history organization in America, has an expert staff of genealogists available for private consultations, research assistance, and guidance for members and the public through its online webinars and study guides.
The five free databases offered by NEHGS to Guest Users from the new online portal during Black History Month include:
- Hampden County, MA: Black Families in Hampden County, 1650-1865
- Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts, 1650-1865 (2nd Edition) by Joseph Carvalho III was published by NEHGS in 2011.
- People of Color in the Massachusetts State Census, 1855-1865
- Massachusetts: 1855 State Census and Massachusetts: 1865 State Census
- Free Negro Heads of Families in the United States in 1830
These databases from NEHGS will be open with FREE access to the public beginning Monday, February 1, and extending through Monday, February 29. Registration is required at AmericanAncestors.org as a FREE Guest User to gain access to these valuable resources. Guest User accounts allow web visitors to use a limited suite of AmericanAncestors.org databases and access web content such as making purchases from the online store. Unlimited access to all 450+ million records and to other benefits is available through membership at NEHGS.
The new portal open on AmericanAncestors.org commemorates the nation’s Black History Month and also offers Guest Users and members a variety of other African American resources available through NEHGS to the researcher. NEHGS invites family historians to utilize the portal and all the resources and services of the Society and of its AmericanAncestors.org website to uncover the stories of fascinating African American lives hidden in the archives of NEHGS. Visit: AmericanAncestors.org/AfricanAmerican.