Advertisements

Sissieretta Jones

Overlooked No More: Sissieretta Jones, a Soprano Who Shattered Racial Barriers

She was the first African-American woman to headline a concert at Carnegie Hall, but she didn’t care for her stage name, “the Black Patti,” which compared her to a white diva.

Read more: New York Times

Access 8/19/18

Advertisements

Understanding DNA

Ten Helpful Tools For Teaching DNA or understanding DNA
Whether you are teaching genetics or learning genetics for the first, or the umpteenth time, our list of Ten Helpful Tools offers new ideas and techniques that will pep your understanding of DNA. Several image sources, interactive tools, and activities you will not want to miss!

Continue reading

Slaves Held and Sold by Jesuits Priest at Georgetown University

In 1838, Georgetown University and the Maryland Jesuits sold nearly 300 enslaved men, women and children to sugar plantations in southern Louisiana in order to recuse the college from bankruptcy.  Until late 2015, Georgetown University folklore said that all of them quickly succumbed to fever in the malodorous swamp world of Louisiana, leaving no trace and no descendants.   But this wasn’t true.

The Georgetown Memory Project was founded in November 2015 to discover what really happened to the Georgetown slaves sold in 1838.  The GMP was founded by Georgetown alumni, and receives no financial assistance whatsoever from Georgetown University or the Maryland Jesuits.

To date, the Georgetown Memory Project has discovered that 206 of the Georgetown slaves were transported to Louisiana in 1838, while 91 more were left behind in Maryland.  In addition, the GMP has identified, located and verified more than 6,178 of their direct descendants (living and deceased).  This is their story.

Richard J. Cellini, Esq. is the Founder & Secretary of  The Georgetown Memory Project

Richard Cellini graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in 1984, and a law degree in 1988.  He received a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 1994.

Richard founded the Georgetown Memory Project in 2015. The GMP is a non-profit research institute focused on the topic of university-sponsored slavery.  The GMP is currently working to identify 272 enslaved people sold by Georgetown University to southern Louisiana in 1838, and to locate their lineal descendants.  To date, the GMP has documented the lives of 211 of the original GU272, and traced more than 6,100 direct descendants (living and deceased).

Source: access 8/17/18- http://www.georgetownmemoryproject.org

 

 

 

COMMENTS

 

Researching African-American Genealogy

Library of Congress Blog Access 7/29/18

My Job at the Library: Researching African-American Genealogy

Ahmed Johnson. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Ahmed Johnson is a local history and genealogy reference librarian in the Library’s Main Reading Room and a specialist in African-American history. A bibliography he created, “African-American Family Histories and Related Works in the Library of Congress,” guides Library researchers seeking to understand their families’ stories to printed and digital sources at the Library.

Here Johnson answers questions about his career of nearly 30 years at the Library, how he developed a passion for African-American genealogy and his search for his own family’s roots.

Tell us a little about your background.
I am one of the few native Washingtonians at the Library of Congress – my family goes back four generations in D.C. In 1989, when I was as a rising senior at Archbishop Carroll High School, I started as a deck attendant in the Library’s Collections Management Division. While attending Hampton University in Virginia, I continued to work at the Library, eventually securing a position as reference assistant in the Manuscript Division. After I graduated, I was selected to participate in the Professional Development Associate Program, a 24-month training that led to my being hired as a reference librarian in the Local History and Genealogy Section.

How did you become interested in African-American genealogy?
I was always curious as a kid and loved history. Every chance I got, I would ask my grandmother – she is now 98 – about how she grew up and about my relatives. I wanted to know about their occupations, their education, their everyday life. My grandmother showed me a photograph from 1922 of her as a 2-year-old sitting on the porch of the family home in Clarke County, Mississippi. The picture included my great-great-great grandfather, who lived to be 106, my great-great grandparents, three cousins and a traveling preacher. I was fascinated by the black-and-white portrait – it looked ancient, it was so dark and blurred. The house looked like a log cabin, and everyone’s clothing was tattered. I quickly realized the sacrifice made by my ancestors and how this sacrifice benefited me – and this sparked even more questions. But I had no idea this curiosity would lead to a career helping others trace their family histories.

What are the special challenges of doing African-American genealogy?
For any group, the further back you go, the fewer records that exist. But the slavery system increased the difficulty. Some individuals were free before the Civil War, but most black Americans are descended from slaves. Considered property, slaves left no real paper trail. They did not record their marriages at the local county courthouse. Also, slavery split families apart, and few slaves could read or write, so the likelihood of family histories being left behind is low. Census records did not include the names of slaves, only the age and the gender of each slave belonging to a specific owner.

By the time slavery ended, for generations of people, much of their original identity and history was lost. And after the Civil War, many families migrated. Some took on the names of former masters, but others simply made up names. Former slaves were poor, and records are always scarce for the poor. Stories about blacks didn’t make the mainstream newspapers until decades later. Some unique records do exist that are helpful in tracing African-American roots, but usually the history is documented by finding the last slave owner.

Which collections have you used to track your own genealogy?
Genealogy is about more than names, dates and locations. It’s about how people lived and why they did the things they did. In genealogy, we call it “putting meat on the bones.” I began my research by interviewing my older relatives. This information led to other resources and collections.

The Library of Congress has local histories from throughout the country in its collections, for example. I searched for books relating to the counties where my relatives had lived. These books provided records pertaining to county history, marriages, taxes, deaths and other details. The Library also has family histories compiled by people who researched their own families. I searched our catalog for these books as well, but unfortunately none related to my line of the family.

The Library subscribes to hundreds of subscription databases, which are free to the staff and public – although some are accessible only on site. I have searched several and located fascinating records. Ancestry Library Edition, which is our subscription to Ancestry.com, has over a billion names and allows you to search for your ancestors’ names. I’ve located U.S. census records, military records and marriage records for my family in Ancestry.

Chronicling America” is a newspaper database that allows keyword searching. My research in this database has revealed obituaries and other information. I continue to search the “Records of the Ante Bellum Southern Plantations,” a microfilmed collection housed in the Manuscript Reading Room. These are records of plantation owners containing information about everyday life on the plantations. They document when people were bought and sold, and provide details about occupations, clothing and food allowances and list slaves by their first names.

Has anything you’ve learned about your own family surprised you?
Using “Chronicling America,” I located a letter to the editor, “Remember the Fireman,” written by my great-great grandfather complaining about his pay and that of his colleagues. Imagine my surprise! I had no idea my ancestor was a firefighter. The letter was published in The Washington Herald on Dec. 10, 1913. But history tells me that black firemen didn’t exist during this time in D.C. I figured out that my ancestor was one of the guys who lit the gas lamps around the city. In 1913, they were called firemen.

%d bloggers like this: