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[ Transcript for: African-American Genealogy: How Do I Find Out More? ]

African-American Genealogy: How Do I Find Out More? Video Transcript

Part Three of a Five-Part Series


MALE SPEAKER: This public affairs presentation is brought to you by the Missouri State Archives Office of the Secretary of State: Where History Begins.

This program is the third of a five–part series on researching African American genealogy. Your series host is Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, Family History Research Consultant.

Today's program: How Do I Find Out More?, will help you explore and use the many resources available from the Internet and local, state and national historical repositories. So, let's join Traci for some good advice and helpful tips on discovering our African American heritage.


:45 Ancestry.com

MS. TRACI WILSON-KLEEKAMP: Hi, today we're going to talk some more about finding your African American ancestors using the Internet or using your local library and resources that may be available to you that you perhaps haven't thought about.

Today we're going to talk about some resources that are probably pretty familiar to you that are on the Internet. A couple of them are subscription–based and a couple are not; they are offered through—maybe through your local library. And, some are available via the Secretary of State's website; there are a laundry list of resources available to you via their on-line databases.

But, let's say you want to know a little more about your ancestors. Let's say you've researched the census and you've used Ancestry.com. I'm going to take you there so you can take a look at it. They do offer a subscription service available at a price. It depends on how much you can afford. I don't know what the standard rate is right now, but go to Ancestry.com and you can see what types of resources they have available. You'll see on the right column a laundry list of resources.

Let's say that you've looked at the census and you want to find out more about your ancestor. Ancestry let's you look on the social security index. There's an obituary collection. You can find out if your ancestor served in World War I or the Civil War or World War II.

Each state has different resources; it depends what location you're looking at. But, if you're looking for Missouri, you can scroll down and see just what types of resources are available via Ancestry. I happen to have the subscription that allows me to access just about everything. So, there's census. There's World War I draft registration cards. There's a social security index. There's marriage records for numerous Missouri counties. When you get a chance, kind of peruse through these and see which one of these items would be of interest to you.

Again, if you're trying to find out more about your ancestor you have to look at what you have and what you'd like to have. Let's say you wanted to find out if your ancestor served in World War I. There's a World War I draft registration card index. I'm just going to put in a name of one of my ancestors to see what comes up. I'm putting in his first name, his last name. I'm going to put in the State of Missouri and I know that he was from Cooper County. I get to go look at the original record which will come up. It tells me where he lives, when he was born, what he did for employment and he was single at the time that he applied or registered for World War I.

3:27 Missouri State Archives website

Secretary of State's website also has a laundry list of resources as I mentioned before. I am bringing this one up now because it also has access to information for veterans via the soldier's database. And, if I go to this website, it says Soldier's Database War of 1812 through World War I. You come down to the search the soldier's database and I'm going to enter the same name that I entered before. Wilson, Nathaniel and I'm just going to say all conflicts—actually, I won't do that, I'll make it easy. I'll say World War I, because I know that he already served there. And, these are the choices that I have to choose from. There's four of them, unfortunately I don't remember which one of these is which. I do know that my Nathaniel Wilson lived in Bunceton. Here he is. Here's his Army Serial Number, his race, his residence, it tells what he did during his service and it also says he got a 33 and a half percent disability. The next step would be to make a request of the Army of those records. Unfortunately in this case, his records were not available due to a fire.

But, let's go back to the Secretary of State's website for on-line resources and databases and kind of go through what kind of records are available. They have an archives on-line catalog, which is a catalog of all their books and microfilm and collections they have. They have a birth and records database that's pre–1910. Death records were not required to be maintained in Missouri until the year 1910. The Civil War Provost Marshal Index Database, there's a coroner's index database, which is very interesting. There is a county and municipal records on microfilm. This tells you what each county has—what they have for each county on microfilm. So, if you're interested in knowing what is on file for let's say Greene County, Missouri you would go search via Greene County, under that link.

This is one of the most popular website links right now for Missouri at the Secretary of State's Office. And, this one is for Missouri death certificates 1910 through 1956. You'll see a description of this collection here. There's a brief history of the project, the request form and, again, another link back to death—to death records that were pre-­1910. Just because it says it’s pre-1910 doesn't mean we're going to find everybody that was born pre-1910, but there are some records available.

Just for fun I'm going to search the last name Crump. That's one of my ancestors in Cooper County, Missouri. And, let's see what comes up. It should be several names. Let's pick the first name on the list, Addie Crump. It will take a minute. Adobe takes a few seconds to—to load. Sometimes it asks to make sure you have the most updated version of Adobe so you have to give it a few minutes to roll out. And, here comes the death certificate for Addie Crump. Addie was married to Clara Crump. He was born in 1873, lived in Bunceton, Missouri his whole life. It tells where he was born in Tipton, Missouri. It says that his parents were Nelson Crump and Melissa Stinson and the informant was Clara Crump, his wife. It also lists who the funeral director was. It also the notes the burial place or cremation and the doctor's signature and the register's signature, and over here on the right it tells the day and year he died and the cause of his death.

These are really interesting records. In this case, you can assume that most of these people here may be related in one way or another. For records for which you don't see the link ‘view image’, these are records that are not on-line, and then you can request them by clicking on that link and printing out the form either in PDF [Portable Document Format] or in Word and for a dollar each you can request up to five records at a time. It's currently taking staff about six to eight weeks to turnaround death records.

Let's go back to the list of resources available on the Secretary of State's website for genealogists. This was the page that we looked at for death records. If we go back to the website of their on-line resources and databases we'll also find out that they have a land patents database, a local records inventory database that tells you what each county has at their office that may be available to you to research. They're not necessarily at the archives, but you can go to those various counties and visit them and see—look at the records that they have listed there. There's a Missouri Supreme Court historical database, which I find to be a very interesting database. I've looked at lawsuits on this database involving slaves and gleaned additional information about the slave owners and their family and their business relationships.

There's the St. Louis Circuit Court Historical Records Project, the St. Louis Probate Court Digitization Project, and, again, the Soldiers Database for the War of 1812 through World War I.

The St. Louis Probate Court Project is very interesting. Entire probates are collected there and digitized, again, in PDF from 1802 to 1900. This is a fabulous resource if you have someone that died in St. Louis during that time, and their probate happens to appear there.

What—how else could you find out information about your ancestor? Let's think of some other places that have on-line resources similar to Missouri's.

9:36 Illinois Regional Archives Depository System Website

Many people in Missouri have genealogical ties to ancestors who came from Illinois or went to Illinois. Like Missouri, Illinois has a state archives that has several databases of information that you might find very helpful. Let's go to the Illinois Regional Archives Depository System. If you click on databases you will see all of the databases that they have available to researchers from the comfort of their home, just sitting at your computer.

One of the resources that I find very, very interesting is their death index, which is similar to Missouri's. It's different in that it doesn't give you the actual record, you have to request it, but you can search the database. It allows you to search for death records that are before 1916 and after 1916. We'll just put in a last name. I'm going to pick one. I'm going to put in Amy Morrison. And, I'm just going to say statewide just to give you—for an example. This one shows that she was a female, that she was white. This is the number of her file—the certificate number. And, it shows what the date of her death, in what county, and the city information. If you go back to the website it—for the death records it tells you what the contents of each of the records contain and it tells you how to obtain the records.

The records in Illinois to request are obtained by region. So, when you click on this link it gives you tips on looking for the records and how to request them.

Make sure that you read these links to the websites very carefully before you call or request records, so that you understand exactly what is required and the costs as you pursue records. They do have a sample record on-line and additional details in case you plan to visit the archives themselves or if you want to contact a county clerk for a county in Illinois.

It's just an example of resources of information that are available to you if you're trying to find out more information about an ancestor. There's also a marriage index from 1763 through 1900, and, again, pre-1916 death index. Above, there's several links for databases of Illinois Veterans. You can see those there. And, some counties have additional information that are also very useful. I was very pleased to use this Madison County probate files index. I was looking for a probate that was in about 1880, and it happened to be on this site. I was able to call, request the record and in about two days I received the files. They don't charge a fee for looking for the records, but they do charge for copies. I think my copies ended up costing me about two dollars. It was very inexpensive.

So, Missouri has a state archives. Illinois has a state archives. You will find that every state has an archives or some type of regional depository that would—could help you with genealogical information. Virginia has a Virginia Historical Society. It has an on line database. Kentucky has a digital archives, it also has an on-line catalog and database. And, you might wonder, “Why do I need to use these database systems?” Well, if you're tracing slaves, of course, you want to know as much about the slave owning families as possible. Many of these families had kept ledgers and journals and other such information that may provide additional details for you.

13:22 Daniel Boone Regional Library Website: Heritage Quest

So, what other item could you use if you're doing research? One of my favorite records is the Daniel Boone Regional Library, it's at www.dbrl.org, and I think I'll probably just walk you through using this website, so that you can get there. You're going to go to reference. We're going to go to their reference databases. We're going to scroll down to Heritage Quest, and like Ancestry it offers you to search the census, electronic books, many—about 200,000 books that includes family and local histories. There's a PERSI [Periodical Source Index] index, which allows you to search for various articles about genealogy and local history. A Revolutionary War search is selected records from the Revolutionary War pension and bounty land war and applications. And, the Freedman’s Bank Bureau, which was founded to serve African Americans.

Like Ancestry you can click on census here, and I use the advanced option for searching the census, so that I can search by county and state. And, just for the heck of it I'm going to put in a surname that I know. I'm going to put in John Lee; I'm going to put in the year 1870; I'm going to put in the state is Missouri; I know it's Cooper County. Yes, that's my favorite county. And, even though you can put sex and race, when I use Heritage Quest I tend to not put in such defining characteristics because it can exclude a lot of data. So, I want to see everybody that's in Missouri with the name of John Lee in Cooper County in 1870 and I get two results. And, of course, I'm looking for the John Lee that's African American. When I click on this page it brings up the census page, and here's John Lee and his wife Harriett. When I'm searching the census I tend to look up and down the entire page. I look at who lives next door to John Lee and on either side. It turns out I just happen to know that Abraham Martin is Harriett's father. And, I watch who lives on this page and the next page.

One of the interesting features about using Heritage Quest is that if you want to print this document you can download it, you can view it, and, if you want to, cut and paste it. It allows you to use this little text tool, right hereto select part of the image, and you can actually cut pieces of the document that you want. So, I could actually go and copy this particular part of the census and paste into a Word document. When you go to print, you select the area that you want and then you tell your -- go to print and you will get kind of a little image that comes up and shows you what part of that image that you're going to get when it comes out printed on a piece of paper. You can print it in landscape or you can print it on just regular portrait. You can also save these files as PDF [Portable Document Format] to your computer. You see there's an example of what the document area that I selected is going to print.

Let's go back and look at some other resources that are available via Heritage Quest. The census, of course, is a fun tool. The difference between Heritage Quest and Ancestry is that if you use Ancestry you can also search by sound. If you use Heritage Quest it has to be exact. And, you may end up playing with it and trying different spellings, word phrases to get an ancestor to come up. I tend to use both of these services together. Sometimes the images on Heritage Quest are better quality maybe than one that I pick up on Ancestry. So, I kind of use them together.

One of the other resources on Heritage Quest that's very useful is to search old family books. Sometimes when I'm looking for a history of a slave owning family I will find that somebody's done considerable research on them in the past, and it also includes footnotes and other important information about where they got certain records and documents.

18:10 Heritage Quest’s Periodical Source Index

Another excellent research is searching PERSI [Periodical Source Index]. I like to use this to look for articles about people. You can look for people, places, and they give you additional information on how to search for articles on research and also all of the periodicals that are available via this database are listed. But, just for fun, let's just go to people and search. I'm going to type in the name Bass and then I'm going to type in Boone County, Missouri, just to see what comes up. Three articles come up. One is about Tom Bass who was a famous black horse trainer in Boone County or actually he was from Boone County, but lived in Audrain. And, there's an article about him in the Missouri Historical Review in January of 1956. If I wanted to get a copy of this article I would use the request form that's provided. And, you can request—it looks like up to about six articles at a time. The cost is $7.50 and you send it to the Allen County Public Library Foundation. It takes about six to eight weeks to get your articles back. And, the charge is $7.50 for each letter, which includes the six or seven requests for articles and its 20 cents per page. So, if the copies that you request exceed the $7.50 amount you will be billed for the additional copies. It's an excellent resource. I usually get my articles back in about eight weeks, and by the time that eight weeks gets there I've got six more articles I'd like to look at. So, I keep that going. I find it's very convenient.

Again, if you want to play with different names and criteria you'd be surprised what type of information will come up. So, that's a little bit about the articles that you can track via Heritage Quest or electronic books and the census. And, the Revolutionary War link is something that you can play with. I don't know—I haven't used this very much. And, I have not found any of my ancestors, yet, via the Freedman’s Bank. But, be sure that you check those resources for yourselves.

Again, these records were found via the Daniel Boone Regional Library under reference and you go to Heritage Quest.

20:39 National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections Website

Now, there are other alternatives for doing research for places that are not near you. If you're researching a prominent family or a family that you believe came from the south or maybe the east coast. Their families may have record collections or records in manuscript collections at other universities and libraries. There's a website called the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. This allows you to search for manuscripts via universities and manuscript collections all across the country. Just for fun, I'm going to search this catalog just using the easy form wordlist and I'm going to put in the surname Tubb; that's one of the families I've followed.

If you hit return after you type in Tubb, it's going to say that your session has expired. So, you have to use the submit query form. So, I've clicked on submit query and what will come up will be a list of all of the locations where they may have something that includes something about a Tubb family or Tubb history. And, your job is to search through and see if one of those actually matches up or more than one to a family that you're interested in.

These are the names of the records. And, all of these collections have something that is related to the name Tubb. In this case, I'm going to pick James Tubb, as an example, and this about the Tubb family who this gentleman James A. Tubb was a mercantile clerk and postmaster in Henry County, Missouri. It tells you a little bit about this family. This is the brief record display. Each one of these titles or records give you information on the particular family. It tells you the location of where the record can be found. For instance, this is the Webb Family Bible; turns out that the Tubb family intermarried with Webbs in Virginia. And, this document is available via the Virginia State Library and Archives and it gives you the branch and it also gives the collection number. So, you can write them or visit the Virginia State Library and Archives on-line and you probably can order the records directly from the web.

This is an invaluable resource, again, if you are researching a slave owning family and want to know more about them, who they were related to. I've found Bible records. I've found bills of sale, all kinds of interesting records using this manuscript collection research.

23:24 More on the Missouri State Archives Website

Let's go back to the Missouri State Archives website, and just review some of the resources that are there. These are all on-line databases that allow you to find out more information about an ancestor whether its pre-Civil War or after the Civil War and its World War I, or you can look for military records. You can search for what types of records are available at each county in Missouri. You can look for death records. You can look at the coroner's inquest database.

This is very interesting. I had a reason to believe that I had a relative who died in a suspicious way and the inquest record actually told me his wife, who he was—the cause of his death, and just a little more information, such as, people who—that lived around him were interviewed. So, sometimes you pick up a little bit more information than you would suspect that you could find.

Also, the Supreme Court database is also an invaluable resource if you know of a slave owning family in your research that has been involved in litigation. Sometimes those records make mention of slaves, but also it let's you know who their heirs were. If you're following slaves you're generally going to be following from family-to-family. And, if you can't find an on-line family tree or record, sometimes a legal record involving litigation may provide answers.

25:03 Family Trees on Ancestry.com

There's another resource on Ancestry and you have to be a paid subscriber to use it. I actually like it pretty well. I'll give you an example of how it works. I'm going to search for Gabriel Tubb in Missouri and we're going to look at all the different things that come up when his name is searched. I'm using this just to give you an idea of the types of the resources that will pop up. In this case, he's listed on the slave schedule. He's on the 1840 census. He's on the 1860 census, and the pre—the Missouri censuses for 1830 through 1870. There's also cemetery records and maybe a marriage and a will record. Then there's a link for you to go to family trees. One of my favorite ones to use is the One World Tree. I always tell researchers to read—not take everything from the web as the truth, and as the final record, but to use it as a guide. In this case, there is a family tree of Gabriel Tubb. It says who he married. He had a spouse number one, a spouse number two, and a spouse number three. This gives me a guide to know who his father was and his great—his grandfather because if Gabriel was a slave owner he probably inherited slaves from his father and his father inherited them from his grandfather. Then Gabriel could have also passed on slaves to his children and these are all his various children.

In this case, if slaves were passed on to these children I would have been able to follow them via Gabriel Tubb’s estate record. But, I also had to go backward and follow his father and his father. I really like these One Tree records. If you go back and you get the original records, such as the wills or probate records, you'll be able to confirm whether the information that's listed on these on-line trees are correct. You may find that you have more or less information than what the researcher on-line put up for review by other researchers.

You can contact the persons who submitted this information. You can add information that you find, that may be of interest to other researchers who are following the same families.

That's the One Tree service. There's also the Ancestry World Trees for Gabriel Tubb. And, on this particular link you will find lots of different trees that various researchers upload for Gabriel Tubb. They're not all the same, but this particular case there's a lot of similarities. And, these are just various researchers who take the time to download whatever information they've gleaned from their research.

Some of them are very complete trees. If you look on the bottom of this particular entry this person has actually annotated all their different sources that they've used in looking for this particular Gabriel Tubb.

Again, this can be invaluable. It gives you resources to look for that you may not have considered or overlooked.

28:23 Slave Schedules and Other Records on Ancestry.com

Your local library may offer you access to Ancestry for free or they may offer them via remote where you can access them through this website, like the Daniel Boone Regional Library. And, all you have to do is enter your library card number to enter the—to access the database.

There are cemetery records here, and we see where Gabriel Tubb was buried. And, there are other Tubbs that are listed in this same area. Additionally, there are marriage and will records that are listed. And, this is a—I believe, a summary abstract of the will of Gabriel Tubb.
It tells you the year, and also tells you the page where his will can be found and who was the witness.

These are his—these records that are listed in this particular case were transcribed from some will and cemetery records books that were put together by Elizabeth Prather Ellsberry and Helen Mitzell.

Also, it's important to researchers who are searching—researching enslaved ancestors or the slave schedules. In this particular case, Gabriel Tubb is on the 1850 and the 1860 slave schedule. You can go to the slave schedule which tells you how many slaves he owned and their age and their race. There are not names of slaves on the slave schedule. There are in some instances the names of slaves who are—at least the ones I've seen who are about a hundred years old. Those are the only instances where I've seen the names of slaves listed.

Sometimes you'll find additional information about the slaves owned, such as sometimes there's little notations that says that they are twins. It says if a person is blind or cannot see. On this page there's not any details like that, but at the top of the column it also asks their age, their sex, their color and the number they have of slaves of that particular age, sex and race. It also asks for—if they're a fugitive and then if they have any slaves that are manumitted. There's also a column for death, dumb, blind, insane, or idiot, additional information there as well.

So, that's what a slave schedule looks like. There's one for 1850 and 1860. If you go back into the 1840 census the slave schedule looks a little bit different. It's not a separate document like it is in 1850 and 1860 where there's a breakdown by sex, age and race. On the 1840 census—it looks a little bit different than the one that we're used to seeing. Let's see if we can bring this a little closer for you. This is the freed person's census in 1840, and it's a little bit harder to read than 1850 and 1860, I think, because it doesn't list all the family members by name.

So, we see Gabriel Tubb is the second to the last person on this last next to John Tubb, right here. But, to find the slave schedule information you have to click on the next page in Ancestry, and the next page is where the slaves are listed. A lot of times people say, "Oh, I can't find the slave schedule in 1840." It's on the next page when you're using Ancestry.

As far as, I know, the slave schedule is not available via Heritage Quest. Gabriel Tubb is the second to the last person listed on the census, and you can see that these are the slaves that he owns. If we scroll to the top of the column we'll find out that slaves are listed by the age under 10, and then between the age of 10 and under 24, 24 and under the age 35, and so on. The males are put into one column of categories and the females are another and these are the total number of slaves. And, it also has a listing here for the number of persons in each family that are employed by the various categories that are listed here mining, agriculture, et cetera.

Sometimes it's really important—well, not just sometimes but all the time, to pay attention to the columns that are listed in the data that's provided. In later census, like in 1900 and 1910, they offer different types of information. So, on one census you may find that it notes the month and the year that a person was born. It tells a little bit about their profession. It notes if it was their first marriage or their second marriage. And, it also might note if they're sick or if they're blind or deaf. Little things like that give you more information about your ancestor that you—might not have been passed down to you via oral history.

33:24 Conclusion

So, today we looked at different ways on-line, using on-line resources to get more information about your ancestor. We looked at Ancestry.com, which allows you to access the census, and a lot of other databases. If you go to Ancestry.com you'll see a link at the bottom of the page under more collections it says see all databases. I would encourage you to take a look at this site and search for all the different areas that are of interest to you.

You want to know for each state, and for what each county what type of resources are available to you on the web. As you know gas is expensive, postage is considerably cheaper. You may be able to find a record on-line and request it and not have to make a trip there to obtain it.

Ancestry is always adding new information, so it's one of those places that you have to check regularly to see what's new. If you're looking for relatives that are—have Missouri roots, but went to other places like Illinois or Kentucky or Virginia. In the case of Illinois we've got an example here of the databases that they offer, land records, veteran records, marriage records, death records and additional records that are in various regional depositories in Illinois. Each comes with specific directions on how to obtain those records.

Besides looking to each state for their manuscript collection or various libraries there's the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, which allows you to search for records via manuscript collections all over the country. This is a really invaluable tool, again, you'll have to sit and play with it and put information in and see what comes up. And, see if you can hone it to what you're looking for. Not everyone that—on your researching will show up there, but I think for places that you're looking for in historical information about locations and events, there will be considerable amount of information.

The Daniel Boone Regional Library, which allows you to go to their reference section and their reference databases and use Heritage Quest on-line. You'll notice that there is some other resources here that may be of interest to you, newspapers and other periodicals that may go back in time and help you find obituaries or other articles about your ancestor.

While your library may not have—allow you remote access to the census or Ancestry, you may be able to go visit your local library and use those databases in person.

And, lastly and more importantly is Missouri Secretary of State's website, which has a variety of on-line resources and databases which we briefly covered.

Another location for getting additional information here in Missouri is the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, which is located at the University of Missouri website—University of Missouri campus here in Columbia, Missouri. And, the state archives does have a research room list of local historical, museum and genealogical agencies so that you can see what's available via each county in Missouri.

Again, this just gives you an at-a-glance place with a link to basically do research from your home using your computer. I would strongly urge you to take a look at these resources. It can save you a lot of time and a lot of money. The Western Historical Manuscript Collection has branches in Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla, and Saint Louis. The staff at each one of these locations is fantastic, and can help you at locating the records that they have listed in their catalog. If you go to the Western Historical Manuscript Collection link for Columbia there is a link for you to search their collection so that you can see what records they have there. Their staff is listed and anything new that's going on that they have there. And, if you go to their access to collections you can see that they have their records divided up into a variety of categories including one for genealogy. And, each one of the collections that they have, they feel are relative to genealogical research that have birth, death records, marriages, and other vital records, et cetera are listed here. And, then if you click on any one of these, it's really amazing. There is a summary that goes with each one. It tells you the name of the collection, how big it is and there is a footprint of information with even detailed listing of what's in each folder in that collection.

If you have additional questions, you can click on the link and ask the reference staff specific questions about what you see in the collection that's listed here.

That's quite a bit of information and resources for doing research. Again, you want to look at who you are doing research for and where. And, take an inventory of what you need to do your research. What kind of documents? And, what's available to you locally? A lot of it you can do right at your computer.

39:05 Finale

MALE SPEAKER: Thank you for watching How Do I Find Out More?, the third program in a five-part series hosted by Family History Research Consultant Traci Wilson-Kleekamp.

This series provides helpful techniques in researching African American genealogy through the Internet, and local, state and national historical repositories.

This public affairs presentation is brought to you by the Missouri State Archives Office of the Secretary of State: Where History Begins.

Please join us for another program in this series. Thank you for watching.