AfriGeneas News & Announcements
July 2006

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Project to Identify Blacks Who Fought in Revolutionary War

Project aims to identify blacks who fought in U.S. Revolutionary War

By Mark Pratt, Associated Press Writer July 19, 2006

BOSTON --Thousands of black men fought for American independence during the Revolutionary War, yet their contributions to the nation's freedom are for the most part unrecognized and rarely appear in modern history books.

Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the Sons of the American Revolution are hoping to change that by undertaking an ambitious project to identify those soldiers, and then find their descendants.

"My first goal with this project is to enhance the awareness of the American public of the role of African-Americans in the struggle for freedom in this country," said Gates, director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard.

"Plus, my concern is that there are many people walking around, like me, who had no idea that I had an ancestor who fought in the Revolution," he said.

It was that revelation which inspired Gates to launch the project.

Gates learned of his family history during filming of the PBS documentary series "African American Lives," which used DNA testing and genealogical research to investigate the ancestry of notable black Americans.

Genealogist Jane Ailes revealed to Gates -- executive producer of the series that first aired in February -- that his fifth great-grandfather on his mother's side was John Redman, a farmer from Williamsport, Va. (now part of West Virginia), who for four years fought with the 1st Virginia Light Dragoons during the Revolution.

Joseph W. Dooley, the chairman of the Sons of the American Revolution's membership committee, wants to identify as many people as possible who contributed to the Revolutionary War effort whose sacrifices "are not appreciated and not recognized," he said. Though he's starting with blacks, he envisions future projects to track the contributions of women and Native Americans to the war effort.

An estimated 5,000 blacks fought for independence during the Revolution.

Read the rest of the story . . .

Source: The Boston Globe

Posted by Staff on 7/22/06 at 9:38 am EST

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Documents from Slave Voyages to be Digitally Accessible

July 10 , 2006

Documents from slave voyages to be digitally accessible

By Elaine Justice

Emory scholars who are revising and expanding a renowned database of trans-Atlantic slave voyages—which, when completed, will account for fully 82 percent of the entire history of the slave trade—expect to make the material available on the Internet within the next two years.

The work is being funded by two grants, $324,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and $25,000 from Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research. The expansion of the current database is based on the seminal 1999 work “The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade,” a CD-ROM that includes more than 27,000 slave trade voyages and has been popular with scholars and genealogists alike.

“We’re trying to do for African Americans what’s been done for Euro-Americans already,” said David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History and one of the scholars who published “The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.” Eltis and Martin Halbert, director of digital programs and systems for University Libraries, are directing the project.

“Everyone wants to know where their antecedents came from, and certainly Europeans have been more thoroughly covered by historians,” said Eltis. “There is more data on the slave trade than on the free migrant movement simply because the slave trade was a business and people were property, so records were likely to be better. What the database makes possible is the establishment of links between America and Africa in a way that already has been done by historians on Europeans for many years.”

In addition to increasing the number of slave trade voyages from the original work by nearly 25 percent, the grant will allow the addition of new information to more than one-third of the voyages already included in the 1999 CD-ROM. The expanded database, making its debut on the Internet, will include auxiliary materials such as maps, ship logs and manifests. At the end of the two-year project, online researchers also will be able to submit new data to an editorial board for vetting and future inclusion in the database.

Read the full story . . .

Source: Emory Report

Posted by Staff on 7/19/06 at 3:08 pm EST

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Family Gatherings Preserve Traditions

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Gatherings preserve traditions

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.

Q: What prompts many families to have reunions?

A: Families just like to get together. The older ones remember the days when they probably lived near their family and probably did have a picnic. The older people remember the good times that came from that and being able to see cousins and relatives.

Very often they want the younger generation to get to know their relatives because one of the things that happened through "progress" (is that) people now have moved all over the place.

Read the full story . . .

Source: The Courier-Journal

Posted by Staff on 7/16/06 at 2:12 pm EST

Friday, July 14, 2006

New Season of History Detectives Premieres July 19 on PBS

June 30, 2006

'History Detectives' returns to PBS

By Nancianne Parkes Suber
Special to The Clarion-Ledger

One of the fascinating things about family research - and probably one of the reasons it can become such an addicting hobby (or even profession) - is that it brings out the natural sleuth in everybody.

The thrill of the hunt for that one little clue can become all-consuming, and today's researchers have become more creative in their detective methods by the minute.

Those of you who already know the thrill of this sort of hunt will take delight in the return of the PBS series, History Detectives. If you have not found this series yet, it's worth checking out.

This weekly show follows its four hosts (historians with backgrounds in art history, architecture, genealogy, sociology, preservation and American culture) through separate investigations that explore stories behind potentially extraordinary objects found in homes across the country.

With a skillful blend of good old-fashioned detective work and cutting-edge modern forensic technology, the history detectives take viewers along with them as they research each little detail of a story.

Co-produced by the Oregon Public Broadcasting and Lion Television, the series encourages viewers to submit ideas for investigation. Last year 75 percent of the shows came from such submissions.

For a overview of the series, the upcoming shows and research tips visit Click on "Submit Mystery" to contributing your own program ideas and perhaps we will be watching the detectives working their magic with you next year!

Check your local TV listings for showings in your own area.


Linda P. Beber ([email protected]) has found a family Bible for John Westbrook of Liberty and Mable Claire Fugler of Marshall, Texas. She is looking for descendants so that the Bible can be returned. The children listed in the Bible include: George Dick Westbrook (born June 26, 1923, with a twin who did not survive) and Nellie Glynn Westbrook (born November 1925).

K.D. Berry ([email protected]) is researching the 1879 lynching of her great-great grandfather, Charles Brown. He was a carpenter who lived in Clinton, East Feliciana Parish, La., and was murdered when he was 39. His widow was Amanda Howard Brown and they had eight children. Oral history is that he was building a house of Wilbert and Mary Phares of Wilkinson County, when he got into a money dispute. After a confrontation at the Phares home, he was held in custody at the house. Neighbors who heard about the confrontation took him away and hanged him. The Woodville Republican reported on the lynching. Berry would like to know more about the murder and details of Brown's life. Can any reader help?

Source: The Clarion-Ledger

Posted by Staff on 7/14/06 at 6:53 pm EST

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bijan C. Bayne Named Manager of the Schools, Organizations, Churches and Institutions Forum

AfriGeneas is pleased to announce the appointment of Bijan C. Bayne as manager of the
Schools, Organizations, Churches and Institutions (SOCI) Forum.

Bijan C. Bayne is a Washington-based freelance writer, and author of Sky Kings: Black Pioneers of Professional Basketball, which was named to the Suggested Reading List of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004. In July 2002, Bayne, who speaks Spanish, won the Robert Peterson Research Award for his presentation "The Struggle of the Latin American Ballplayer", given at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Bayne's chapter on Black baseball in North Carolina appears in the book Baseball in the Carolinas (McFarland 2002). Bayne has been interviewed on radio programs in Puerto Rico, Durham, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. His essay on schoolyard basketball appears in the anthology Basketball in America (Haworth 2005). Bayne has been a writing instructor in afterschool programs and at adult education centers, as well as a public relations writer. He is currently at work researching a documentary film.

Bayne has guest lectured on the social significance of the life of Jackie Robinson each year since 1996 at The George Washington University, at classes, and events such as Charter Day 1996 and Unity Week in 1999. His travel articles have appeared in AAA Horizons, Family Digest, Atlanta Goodlife, Ohio magazine, Arrington's Inn Traveler, and Hotel Executive, and his book reviews have been featured in Washington Post Book World, The Boston Herald, and The Crisis. He is a columnist for Sports Central, and has served as a consultant for film and television clients such as Aviva Kempner, Jennifer Lawson, and Jay Smith, Spike Lee and CINE. Bayne was recently (June 10, 2006) a panelist at the annual conference of Washington Independent Writers, on the topic of marketing as an independent writer.

Posted by Staff on 7/10/06 at 12:55 am EST

Sunday, July 02, 2006

AfriGeneas Named One of Family Tree Magazine's Top 101 Web Sites for 2006; Designated a "Reader Favorite"

Cyber Champs
By David A. Fryxell

Need another online success strategy? Don't waste time with subpar sites--surf straight to our 2006 picks for the 101 Best Web Sites.

Our annual 101 Best Web Sites compilation is hardly the only time we scour the Web for great family history sites. We're constantly on the prowl for new ways to rev up your online research, putting Web sites' claims to the test and noting which digital destinations are no longer worthy of your clicks. Several times a year, in fact, we publish other compilations of online favorites clustered around a single topic: international research, for example, or sites specializing in historical photos.

For this year's 101 honors, we decided to use those other Web site roundups as our starting point--a sort of qualifying heat for the big 101 competition, if you will. Only sites we've already selected as among the best in a particular category were even eligible for consideration.

We've recently revisited all these sites, of course, to update our entries and to make sure they're still worthy. Some have imporved dramatically since we first singled them out, several have relocated, and others no longer made the cut. Our 2006 list reflrects all these changes, as well as a rigours (not to mention difficult) paring down of 300-plus stellar sites to a mere 101. In short, this year's list represents the best of the best of online genealogy, as filtered by our staff and our expert contributing editors.

As usual, our selections reflect a preference for sites where you can do real research or find essential additions to your family history. Sites that mostly just link to other sites, where the real good stuff hides, tend to get axed. Ditto for mere collections of tips or advice. (After all, you've got Family Tree Magazine for how-to information from experts.) The number of subscription sites truly worth your money has increased dramatically in recent years�but all other things being equal, we'll pick a free site over a paid one. (We've noted primarily paid-content sites.) So which sites finished ahead of the pack in our 2006 competition? We thought you'd never ask...

Source: Family Tree Magazine

Posted by Staff on 7/02/06 at 6:44 am EST

Roots of Human Family Tree are Shallow

Whoever it was probably lived a few thousand years ago, somewhere in East Asia � Taiwan, Malaysia and Siberia all are likely locations. He � or she � did nothing more remarkable than be born, live, have children and die.

Yet this was the ancestor of every person now living on Earth � the last person in history whose family tree branches out to touch all 6.5 billion people on the planet today.

That means everybody on Earth descends from somebody who was around as recently as the reign of Tutankhamen, maybe even during the Golden Age of ancient Greece. There's even a chance that our last shared ancestor lived at the time of Christ.

"It's a mathematical certainty that that person existed," said Steve Olson, whose 2002 book "Mapping Human History" traces the history of the species since its origins in Africa more than 100,000 years ago.

It is human nature to wonder about our ancestors � who they were, where they lived, what they were like. People trace their genealogy, collect anti-ques and visit historical sites hoping to capture just a glimpse of those who came before, to locate themselves in the sweep of history and position themselves in the web of human existence.

But few people realize just how intricately that web connects them not just to people living on the planet today, but to everyone who ever lived.

With the help of a statistician, a computer scientist and a supercomputer, Olson has calculated just how interconnected the human family tree is. You would have to go back in time only 2,000 to 5,000 years � and probably on the low side of that range � to find somebody who could count every person alive today as a descendant.

Read the rest of the story . . .

Source: USA Today

Posted by Staff on 7/02/06 at 2:40 am EST

6 Jul 2003 | 02 Jul 2006
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