Archive for February, 2009 Free Webinar: African-American Research

Just finished watching a free webinar presented by, “Making a Breakthrough in Your African American Research”.  The presentation was by Marjorie Sholes, a professional genealogist since 1984.  I don’t have time to fully review this presentation at the moment but I did take notes throughout, and will post a full review within the next few days.  I will also let you all know when the webinar becomes available online.

Overall, I will say that the presentation was useful.  Unfortunately, as I have found with many lectures on African-American research, the case study presented dealt solely with a family that kept its owner’s surname — even though Ms. Sholes made note of the fact that 85% of the former slaves did not take the surname of their last owner.  This is a shortcoming in many of the lectures that I have personally seen, though my own research supports the statistic that Ms. Sholes herself admits.

More will be forthcoming on the presentation…


Great Resource: University of Virginia Library Historical Census Browser

This database has been up for a few years, but I think that it deserves another mention.

The University of Virginia Library has compiled the population and other statistics for all of the federal censuses from 1790-1960.  You can select which statistics to view and compare, and view all 50 states or by county within states.  These databases are statistical only, and contain no information on specific households.

But this statistical information is nearly as important as the actual census returns themselves, for it provides context.  As much time as we spend investigating our ancestors, we must also remember that they did not live in a Family Group Record world.  They were members of a community, and the demographic information contained in this database will tell you about that community.

Some of the information is particularly useful for genealogists, if you compare your family to the statistics for the county in which they lived.  Information on the population by size of household, gender, age, and race, information on the ownership and size of farms, occupations, religion, etc., are all available for searching.

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