African American Genealogy Books, Groups and Resources

By Family Tree Editors Premium

Sign up for the Family Tree Newsletter Plus, you’ll receive our 10 Essential Genealogy Research Forms PDF as a special thank you!

Get Your Free Genealogy Forms

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Jump to:

Podcast Episodes from Family Tree Magazine

Tune into the February 2010 episode of our podcast, which features tips on African-American genealogy, newspaper preservation and tips for getting your genealogy in shape. Editor Allison Stacy talks about genealogy education opportunities, and Managing Editor Diane Haddad talks about new resources for African-American research. And you can hear our new preservation segment, Safe Keeping with Grace Dobush.
February is Black History Month, and this edition of the podcast is chock full of great resources for African-American researchers. We’ve got a look at, our African-American newspapers FTU course and some preservation projects focused on black history. Plus: An insider’s look at the new season of “Who Do You Think You Are?”
In this month’s podcast, we celebrate Black History Month with tips for finding your African-American ancestors.

Social Media Groups

Association for the Study of African American Life and History


Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society



Facebook Group


Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture


The Association of African American Museums (AAAM)


Slave Societies Digital Archive



Our Black Ancestry

Private Facebook Group

Low Country Africana


The IAAM Center for Family History




Midwest African American Genealogy Institute

Facebook Group

Genealogy Books

African American Genealogical Research: How to Trace Your Family History by Paul R. Begley, Alexia J. Helsley and Steven D. Tuttle

African American Genealogical Sourcebook edited by Pamela K. Byers

African American Genealogy: A Bibliography and Guide to Sources by Curt Bryan Witcher

Afro-Americana, 1553-1906 by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

American Slavery, American Freedom by Edmund S. Morgan

Bibliographic Checklist of African-American Newspapers by Barbara K. Henritze

Black Chicago’s First Century, Volume 1, 1833-1900 by Christopher Robert Reed

If you have African American ancestry in Chicago, you’ll want to devour this book from cover to cover. Written by a professor of history at Roosevelt University in the Windy City, the informative and comprehensive social history examines the lives of blacks who lived in northern Chicago. Reed explores black demographics, religion and churches, community organizations, emancipation, employment, education and more. The book is meticulously researched, well-illustrated and an absorbing read. The index lists numerous names-which might benefit a lucky researcher-and Reed’s extensive bibliography will give you ideas for further reading and research.

Black Genealogy by Charles L. Blockson and Ron Fry

Black Genesis: A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy by James M. Rose and Alice Eichholz

Black Names in America: Origins and Usage by Newbell Niles Puckett

Black Roots: A Beginners Guide To Tracing The African-American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs

Cane River by Lalita Tademy

A Comprehensive Name Index for the American Slave by Howard E. Potts

Courthouse Research for Family Historians by Christine Rose

Diary of a Contraband: The Civil War Passage of a Black Sailor by William B. Gould IV

Family Pride: The Complete Guide to Tracing African-American Genealogy by Donna Beasley

Finding a Place Called Home: A Guide to African-American Genealogy and Historical Identity by Dee Parmer Woodtor

Finding Your African-American Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide by David T. Thackery

The First Emancipator: Slavery, Religion, and the Quiet Revolution of Robert Carter by Andrew Levy

From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans by John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss Jr.

A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors by Emily Anne Croom and Franklin Carter Smith

A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Immigrant & Ethnic Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

Genealogy at a Glance: African American History by Michael Hait

Generations Past: A Selected List of Sources for Afro-American Genealogical Research by Sandra M. Lawson

How To Trace Your African-American Roots: Discovering Your Unique History by Barbara Howell

In Black and White edited by Mary Mace Spradling

A Legal History of Slavery in the United States by Robert B. Shaw

Malindy’s Freedom: The Story of a Slave Family by Mildred Johnson and Theresa Delsoin

Oral histories often either fail to get passed down or aren’t recorded, causing families to lose precious parts of their heritage. Not so in the case of Malindy’s Freedom. Sisters Johnson and Delsoin, the great-granddaughters of Malindy, skillfully researched and wrote a compelling family history. Malindy was born a free Cherokee Indian and later enslaved in Franklin County, Mo. Her free husband was half-Irish, a quarter African and a quarter American Indian. This narrative uniquely blends a multicultural dynamic. Drawing on the recollections of their grandmother, who told them about her life in slavery and her mother’s life, the authors blend and support the oral history with research into historical documents. You’ll find this slave narrative to be an interesting read and a model for combining oral history with research.

Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America by Ira Berlin

Rooted in Place: Family and Belonging in a Southern Black Community by William W. Falk

Although this book isn’t intended as a family history, Falk uses years of research on the rural South as well as oral history interviews with a black extended family in the Georgia-South Carolina low country to reveal a typical family who chose to stay in the Deep South instead of migrating North. This book focuses on a present-day family, but Falk also weaves a broader historical context into the narrative, discussing the roles of women, work, education, religion and race. You’ll discover interesting aspects of black families’ dynamics and the ways their heritage reflects on their lives today. Above all, Rooted in Place gives readers insight into the reasons some blacks chose to stay in impoverished areas of the South.

Slave Ancestral Research: It’s Something Else by Mary L. Jackson Fears

Slave Genealogy: A Research Guide with Case Studies by David H. Streets

Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall

While visiting a Point Coupee Parish, La., courthouse in 1984, Rutgers University professor Hall discovered a trove of historic data. Over the next 15 years, she uncovered the backgrounds of 100,000 slaves who were brought to Louisiana in the 18th and 19th centuries. From that research she created the Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820 , an online database where you can search for your slave ancestors. In her latest work, Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas, Hall notes that although enslaved Africans came from several different ethnic groups, most of them derived from only a few main groups. Hall uses her data to show that slave traders often sold members of culturally similar ethnic groups into the same parts of the Americas, creating clusters of African ethnicities. This fascinating book is a must-read for anyone with slave or slave-owning ancestors.

Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball

Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619-1860 by Thomas D. Morris (University of North Carolina Press)

A Student’s Guide to African American Genealogy by Anne Johnson

Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

Your Guide to the Federal Census by Kathleen W. Hinckley

Authors/Influencers on Twitter

If you’re a Twitter user, here a few individuals whose accounts you may want to check out:

Angela Y. Walton-Raji
Kenyatta D. Berry
Renate Sanders
Nicka Sewell-Smith
Tony Burroughs

Organizations, Archives and Research Centers

African American Genealogy Group

African-American Genealogy Group of the Miami Valley of Ohio

African-American Genealogy Group of Philadelphia

Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society

Library and Archives Canada: Black History in Canada

International Society of Sons and Daughters of Slave Ancestry

Midwest African American Genealogy Institute

Moorland Spingarn Research Center, Howard University

Reginald F. Lewis Museum Maryland African American History and Culture

The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society

National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center

National Register of Historic Places: African American History Month

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Versions of this information appeared in the February 2001 and January/February 2015 issues of Family Tree Magazine.

Book summaries were written by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack and appeared in the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.