Category Archives: Genealogical Resources

Meeting African American genealogist, Bernice Bennett at #NGS2011

Bernice Bennett (Left), photo by Mr. @SavingStories

For those of you who do not know, NGS presenter and genealogist,  Bernice Bennett, shares her expertise on the BlogTalkRadio Show, Nurturing Our Roots with Host, Antoinette Harrell.  I had the privilege of meeting Bernice in person, and look forward to the great genealogical resources she will continue to share on upcoming episodes of Nurturing Our Roots. She is truly a great lady.

I was very captivated by everything Bernice shared with me in when we met.  You can tell by my faraway look that my mind was churning.  I have to also say that it is such a great privilege for me to meet an African American woman who shares the same interests and knows of the person struggles of our ancestors and the difficulties we face in documenting them.  Bernice has researched in two of the same states where I am also researching, Louisiana and South Carolina.

Please enjoy the Afrigeneas YouTube Video from NGS 2011 where Bernice shares a little about tracing the homestead records of African Americans living in Livingston Parish, LA:


Tags: , , , ,

Meet up with twin, @LCAfricana, at #NGS2011

I often think about the many great friends I would not know if I were not on Twitter.  I follow and have learned from the best of the best.  It has been such a great experience finding so many people who share the same interests in genealogy as I do.

Left: @LCAfricana (Toni Carrier), photo by Mr. @SavingStories

Once again I had the opportunity to meet up with @LCAfricana (Toni Carrier) who introduces me as her twin.  When we first met in person last year, we found ourselves finishing each other’s sentences and being totally rabid about genealogy. Many times I am up until 2 am and all of a sudden, she will tweet me as if she knew I was out there.

I had the wonderful opportunity on this trip of watching Toni work her extreme magic uncovering an unbelievable number of resources to document the slave ancestry of a person she was helping.  I have used (SC, FL, GA resources) for years, and am glad to know the brains behind the source.

We are twins for many reasons.  She has the same incredible dedication to providing resources to help others and works tirelessly around the clock.  Toni is also always surrounded by people who are also hard working and truly dedicated. Mr @SavingStories, and I had a wonderful experience set up by my twin at Magnolia Plantation this week where D. J Tucker gave the most correct and inspirational African American interpretation at the slave dwellings on the site.  After the presentation, D J kept making a move to go for the day, but hesitated until he had shown us each of the cabins and had given the history behind who had stayed in them.

It was great to hear the response of the class after Toni’s presentation at NGS yesterday.  They were in total awe.  I heard someone comment, “I was looking for help, and I found Toni.  Now she’s all I need.”   Toni patiently answered questions and conversed with each of them who approached her afterwards.  She is a true treasure to know.  Everyone needs a twin!


Tags: , , , , ,

Helping at Charleston SC Family History Center during #NGS2011

Even before the first shift began at the Charleston SC Family History Center, patrons from Kentucky had stopped by yesterday to find resources to document an ancestor who lived locally.  I always enjoy my visits to the center in October where I am usually invited to give presentations.

I had not had the opportunity to see the staff work their magic with patrons who need assistance until yesterday.  I helped to determine the basics, time period and names, for the patron, but of course was dependent on the staff’s knowledge of resources on site.

After the initial help, Vivian Kessler, volunteer, produced a book on the Wadamalaw area and the patron found a reference in no time.  I am always amazed at the varied types of local resources you can find in a center.

Vivian and her husband, Paul, were kind enough to pose with me yesterday so that Mr. @SavingStories could take a photo of us.  These are only a couple of the great friends I have made here.  They have also been a great help to those whom I have referred.

Left: Paul Kessler, Right: Vivian Kessler, photo by Mr. @SavingStories

If you are searching for resources visit the Learning Resources at

Charleston SC Family History Center

1519 Sam Rittenberg Blvd

Charleston, SC 29414


Tues-Thurs 10 am -9 pm

Fri-Sat 10 am – 2 pm


Tags: , , ,

After 26 years, not finished and still hooked!

By Robin Foster

People assume all the time that I am much younger than I am.  I have a youthful personality, I have kept up with technology, and I love learning new things.  After so many years documenting my own ancestors and helping others, I am still discovering resources and have helpful techniques to share.

Still discovering

A Bureau agent stands between armed groups of ...

Image via Wikipedia

We have yet to discover many genealogical resources to document our ancestors.  We have only touched the surface of the great depths of records which exist.  Most have not even been indexed or brought forward yet.  Those who are researching African American ancestors are still using the most basic record-types such as death, marriage, and census records.  We  will need to dig a little deeper in order to overcome the 1870 challenge.

During the last months of 2010, I decided to spend the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War bringing to the forefront history that has been buried, overlooked, or taught incorrectly.  I felt this would be a great opportunity to discover more about African American history and historical documentation about our ancestors.

I began to focus on the period after 1865 and the new legislation that may have caused documentation to be generated that mentions African Americans.  I began a study of the Black Codes, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and Reconstruction.  I knew that I would also be led to identify ways we have not yet been able to embrace freedom.

During Reconstruction, African Americans had the right to vote and exercised other rights which were eventually taken away by 1876 and 1877.  A economic system of forced labor which reared its ugly head in the form of labor contracts just after the Civil War became fully entrenched in the South for many decades.  From 1865 through 1965 and later many African Americans were under the control of this system and suffered great violence.

African American history is about more than slavery

Many genealogical researchers do not see the importance of revisiting this time period, however, in order to uncover vital information about our ancestors, we must start with ourselves and work backwards through every existing record of genealogical significance not just the ones commonly used.  Unfortunately, the history of African Americans has been reduced to the history of slavery. Without an understanding of the legal system during the years after slavery, we miss a wealth of genealogical records which were generated.

We must research the historical documentation generated by the Black Codes, Freedmen’s Bureau, Jim Crow Laws, NAACP, and records generated on the county, state, and federal levels to find the records that provide a wealth of genealogical data about our ancestors.  So when I suggest that we have only brushed the surface when it comes to available records, I am including these record-types and those that remain hidden that we have yet to discover.

History as a whole

Taking this holistic approach to historical documentation, has enabled me to identify resources that are helpful to all races.  Records are color blind, and they sound neither be taken out of the context of the time period that they were generated.  We cannot separate genealogical records from the context of history, neither should we select a portion of records generated while ignoring the others which exist.  I feel that even though I have been researching for 26 years, my journey has only just begun.

More links:

African American genealogical records yet to be unearthed

The true legacy of Election 1860, Secession, and Civil War

My love affair with Frederick Douglass


Tags: , ,