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AfriGeneas News & Announcements
April 2007

Saturday, April 28, 2007

British Slave Records to be Released Online announced today that the web site will post 3 million names of slaves held across the British Empire in the early 19th century, putting hundreds of thousands of pages of searchable information online to help slaves' descendants research their past. The project will use registers that the British government created between 1813 and 1834 in an effort to stamp out the slave trade by ensuring plantation owners did not buy new slaves. Britain abolished the trade in 1807. Slavery itself was outlawed in the colonies 17 years later.

Information from about 700 registers from 23 British territories and dependencies will be made available online, free of charge, within the next 12 months, said Simon Ziviani, a spokesman for The database will be searchable by first and last name, island, plantation, age and sex, he said.

One of the most exhaustive documents, the 1834 Barbados Slave Register, was posted online by the site Friday.

Colonies were required to conduct censuses of slaves and their owners every three years. Records were kept on site and copies submitted to the Office for the Registry of Colonial Slaves. After the office was disbanded, some 200,000 pages of names were placed in the National Archives in Kew, in west London.

Although estimates vary, researchers say tens of millions of African men, women and children were enslaved and shipped to the Caribbean and the Americas. Many of these were sent to British-controlled islands such as Barbados, Jamaica and the Bahamas, where they were forced to work in plantations.

No date has yet been announced for the availability of the remaining British Slave Records.

Source: Eastman's Online Newsletter

Posted by Staff on 4/28/07 at 2:52 am EST

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CASTING CALL: Producers of PBS Series African American Lives and Oprah’s Roots Invite Applications from Individuals to Participate in Newest PBS Broadcast, African American Lives 2


One Selected Person Will Have His Or Her Roots Mapped Through DNA Analysis And Genealogical Research In New PBS Series Hosted By Harvard Scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Individuals Can Apply Online Beginning April 18th At:

In February 2006, the acclaimed PBS series African American Lives brought to the forefront of national consciousness the powerful process of discovering one’s family history. A Roots for the 21st century, the series made a deep cultural impact through its riveting use of DNA analysis, genealogical research and family oral tradition to trace the lineages of highly accomplished African Americans down through U.S. history and back to Africa.

One year later, Oprah’s Roots further crystallized and propelled America’s interest in family tree research through the powerful stories of Oprah Winfrey’s ancestors and their accomplishments.

Now, you too are invited to participate in the newest African American Lives project. The producers of African American Lives 2 are seeking an African American to join Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and an all-new group of distinguished African Americans on an extraordinary journey of discovery. The series is tentatively scheduled to air on PBS in February 2008.

“What we find in doing this research is that even a regular person has extraordinary stories within his or her family,” says Professor Gates. “In African American Lives 2, we’ll work with one such person to show that the technology and resources for discovering these stories are available to all Americans, especially those of African descent.”

Under the supervision of Professor Gates, the series’ research will be conducted by the eminent genealogists Tony Burroughs, Johni Cerny, Jane Ailes and Megan Smolenyak together with, one of the world’s leading online resources for family history information. They’ll research the selected individual’s family history, while a DNA testing service will provide a genetic analysis. The results of both will be revealed, along with that of the other series participants, by Professor Gates on the PBS broadcast of African American Lives 2.

Beginning April 18th, interested individuals must apply online at Online applications must be received by 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 4, 2007. Any applications submitted after this date and time will not be considered. Finalists will receive a one-year subscription to The winning applicant will be notified and announced the week of May 28, 2007. Please note that the following are not eligible to participate: employees, and their relatives, of PBS, the series’ producers (Thirteen/WNET, Kunhardt Productions, and Inkwell Films) and corporate sponsors (The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson and General Motors).

In addition to their name, age, gender, and contact information, applicants will be asked to tell the judges about themselves and their family, and why they would make the ideal candidate for the series.

Upon submitting the online application, individuals will receive an e-mail confirmation with a unique identification number. Applicants must attach this number along with their name to a photograph of themselves and mail it to: African American Lives 2, 305 West Broadway, Suite 144, New York, NY 10013. Photographs must be postmarked no later than Monday, May 7. Applications are not complete until the production team receives an individual’s photograph.

Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional funding is provided by General Motors.

African American Lives 2 is a co-production of Thirteen/WNET New York, Kunhardt Productions and Inkwell Films. Graham Judd is series producer; Dyllan McGee is senior producer for Kunhardt Productions. Executive producers are Henry Louis Gates Jr., William R. Grant and Peter W. Kunhardt.

About Thirteen/WNET New York
Thirteen/WNET New York is one of the key program providers for public television, bringing such acclaimed series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Charlie Rose, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Wide Angle, Secrets of the Dead, NOW With David Brancaccio, and Cyberchase – as well as the work of Bill Moyers – to audiences nationwide. As the flagship public broadcaster in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut metro area, Thirteen reaches millions of viewers each week, airing the best of American public television along with its own local productions such as The Ethnic Heritage Specials, The Thirteen Walking Tours, New York Voices, and Reel New York. Thirteen extends the impact of its television productions through educational and community outreach projects – including the Celebration of Teaching and Learning – as well as Web sites and other digital media platforms. More information can be found at:

About Kunhardt Productions
For nearly 20 years, Kunhardt Productions has been responsible for critically acclaimed historical programming with a reputation for high editorial standards. Most recently, Kunhardt Productions co-produced Oprah’s Roots (2007) and African American Lives (2006) for PBS. Previously, the company produced Freedom: A History of US, an eight-hour PBS series based upon Joy Hakim's award-winning books. Other notable works from Kunhardt Productions include Lincoln, a four-hour series for ABC; In Memoriam, a one-hour co-production with HBO about Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; and The American President, a 10-hour PBS series profiling all forty-one presidents of the United States. Kunhardt Productions is currently developing a multi-part series for PBS, Looking for Lincoln, to be broadcast in 2009 as part of the Bicentennial Celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. More information can be found at:

About Inkwell Films
Inkwell Films was founded by Henry Louis Gates Jr. to produce sophisticated documentary films about the African-American experience for a broad audience. In addition to Oprah’s Roots, Inkwell Films co-produced African American Lives (2006) and is currently developing The History of the African American People, an eight-part series tentatively slated for national broadcast premiere in 2009-2010.

Press Contacts:
Donna Williams Gloria Park
Thirteen/WNET New York
Thirteen/WNET New York

Posted by Staff on 4/18/07 at 1:11 pm EST

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Gatherings Preserve Traditions

Friday, April 6, 2007

By Linda Dono
Gannett News Service

Many families these days are scattered. Children move away for college or jobs. Their children do the same. For some, the word "hometown" has lost its meaning because they've lived in many places they call home.

But now -- perhaps more than at any other time in history -- relatives have the ability to stay connected. E-mail gets delivered in seconds. Cross-country phone calls are inexpensive. And many people have the financial means to travel to see their kin.

Genealogy, researching one's roots, is a hobby and a passion for many people, whether their families have been in America for one generation or 10.

Ione Vargus, chairwoman of the Family Reunion Institute, noticed that families, especially black families, latched onto the idea of three-day formal reunions after Alex Haley published "Roots" in 1976.

She started studying family reunions in 1986 and founded the institute at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1990.

Read the rest of the story . . .

Source: The Courier-Journal

Posted by Staff on 4/15/07 at 6:33 pm EST

Friday, April 13, 2007

PBS Documentary on the Mormons to Air Beginning April 30th

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of America's fastest growing religions, and its influence circles the globe. The church has 12 million members today and over half of them live outside the U.S. Yet the birth of Mormonism and its history is one of America's great neglected narratives. This four-hour documentary brings together FRONTLINE and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE in their first co-production to provide a searching portrait of this fascinating but often misunderstood religion. Produced by award-winning filmmaker Helen Whitney ("Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero," "John Paul II: The Millennial Pope"), the film will explore the richness, the complexities, and the controversies of the Mormons' story as told through interviews with leaders and members of the church, with leading writers and historians, and with supporters and critics of the Mormon faith.

Read the press release . . .

Source: FRONTLINE + American Experience: The Mormons: Preview Site

Posted by Staff on 4/13/07 at 11:22 am EST Offering Free Access to Ellis Island Records through April 30th Celebrates 100th Anniversaries of Ellis Island's Largest Day and Year of Immigration, April 17, 2007

Free Access to Only Complete Online Collection of Ellis Island Records, 1892-1957; Explore Ellis Island at the Click of a Mouse at

PROVO, Utah, April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- To honor the 100th anniversaries of the largest year and single day of immigration through Ellis Island,, the world's largest online resource for family history, is offering free access to the only complete online set of Ellis Island passenger arrival records (1892-1957) from April 12 to April 30. In addition, is inviting users to relive the remarkable journeys of their gateway ancestors at the click of a mouse at -- an interactive, multimedia tour of this national landmark.

More than 11,500 immigrants passed through America's "Golden Door" on April 17, 1907, the single-day record. In total, some 1 million immigrants would come through the island in 1907 alone, making it the busiest year in Ellis Island's 60 years of operation.

Each ship that docked at Ellis Island was required to give island officials a list of people on board. Known as passenger lists, these records reveal invaluable pieces of a family's immigration story, from place of origin and intended destination in America to birth dates, names of family members and even the amount of money in their possession.

"For millions of Americans, Ellis Island is a monument to their ancestors' hope, will and sacrifice -- not just a New York tourist site," said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for "More than 12 million immigrants came through Ellis Island and though some settled in New York, most boarded trains bound for Minnesota and Colorado and other destinations across the country. Ellis Island's influence is felt throughout America."

From cramped, unsanitary conditions during their Atlantic voyage, to long lines and dreaded medical inspections, brings the "Isle of Hope" to life, illustrating the story of this great immigration station through oral histories, original photos, maps and first-hand accounts. At the click of a mouse, site visitors can now discover the legacies of immigrants' sacrifice, survival and success, learning what drove so many millions of immigrants to leave everything they knew for a country they had never seen.

This 100th anniversary comes on the heels of the November launch of's U.S. Passenger List Collection, the largest compilation of its kind, which includes more than 100 million names of people who arrived at more than 100 U.S. ports of entry between 1820 and 1960, the height of immigration.'s easy-to-use search and navigation tools help users find their ancestors' passenger lists. Users can view a digital image of the actual passenger list document, save to their online personal family tree, print for future reference and share via email with their family members. From April 12 through April 30, is offering free access to the entire U.S. Passenger List Collection, which includes the Internet's most comprehensive set of Ellis Island records.

The U.S. Passenger List Collection complements and combines with's eclectic and growing compilation of historical records, which also includes birth, marriage and death records, military records and the exclusive online U.S. Federal Census Collection (1790-1930).

The Generations Network

Posted by Staff on 4/13/07 at 11:15 am EST

Monday, April 09, 2007

TV One to Air "Roots" in Six Parts Beginning Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007

'Roots' was a turning point - for TV, for the nation

By David Zurawik
Sun Television Critic

Roots, the ABC miniseries based on Alex Haley's novel about his family's ancestry, not only changed the face of television when it premiered in 1977, it also radically altered the culture in ways that are still being felt today - 30 years later.

TV One, the Maryland-based cable channel seen in 36.6 million homes and targeted to African-American viewers, tonight will mark the anniversary with the first of six evenings of Roots. The miniseries will be accompanied by vignettes about the impact of Roots and appearances by cast members including LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett Jr., Richard Roundtree, Leslie Uggams and Ben Vereen.

Roots, which drew an audience of 130 million viewers, is still ranked as the most-watched mini-series in TV history. It ushered in a decade-long era of prime-time programming heavily influenced by the genre. More important, it introduced tens of millions of Americans to genealogy, and opened one of the most wide-ranging discussions of race in national history.

"Roots helped us to see how entertainment television could shape the national conversation and our sense of who we were as Americans," says Sheri Parks, a University of Maryland professor of American studies and author of Fierce Angels: The Mythology of the Strong Black Woman, forthcoming from One World/Random House this year.

"As a nation, we had never turned to look slavery full in the face because almost as soon as the Civil War was over, even Northern popular culture set to work to romanticize the Old South and slavery," says Parks.

The miniseries also helped shape a historical sense of identity in African-American viewers, according to Parks.

"For African-Americans, it was crucial. It aired in the pre-Cosby era, and we still did not see many television images that made us proud or even attempted historical accuracy. We did not yet pride ourselves on being the descendants of survivors. Roots helped change that."

The series, which initially aired Jan. 23-30, 1977, is not without flaws. It is, after all, essentially a docu-drama that involves the blending of fiction and fact shaped to the dictates of prime-time entertainment.

Still, it has stood the test of time remarkably well.

"We can see now that as history or even as a television production that Roots was not perfect, but it is important, because it grabbed our attention," Parks says.

"It told us that as a country, we were serious enough - and smart enough - to take a long, hard look at a tremendously difficult topic."

Source: Baltimore Sun

Posted by Staff on 4/09/07 at 7:15 pm EST

6 Jul 2003 | 09 Apr 2007
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