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African American Genealogy News & Announcements

Sunday, April 10, 2011

DISUNION: With Friends Like These ... How Lucretia Mott and the Quakers pushed Lincoln toward abolition.

Lucretia Mott, the Philadelphia Quaker famous for her work in the abolition and women’s rights movements, never met Abraham Lincoln. But Mott and many of her faith thought they knew him well enough to be wary: though the South was up in arms over his antislavery statements, he was nowhere near radical enough for Mott’s small but influential religious community. Indeed, by March 1861, the views of Mott and other Quakers provide a trustworthy indicator of how Northern radicals saw the possibility of sectional conflict on the eve of the Civil War.

Read the rest of the story . . .

Source: The New York Times

Posted by Staff on 4/10/11 at 6:26 pm EST

The Way We Weren't: TIME Magazine's Cover Story on the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War

The Civil War:
The Way We Weren't

By David von Drehle
Thursday, Apr. 07, 2011

A few weeks before Captain George S. James sent the first mortar round arcing through the predawn darkness toward Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, Abraham Lincoln cast his Inaugural Address as a last-ditch effort to win back the South. A single thorny issue divided the nation, he declared: "One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute."

It was not a controversial statement at the time. Indeed, Southern leaders were saying similar things during those fateful days. But 150 years later, Americans have lost that clarity about the cause of the Civil War, the most traumatic and transformational event in U.S. history, which left more than 625,000 dead — more Americans killed than in both world wars combined.

Shortly before the Fort Sumter anniversary, Harris Interactive polled more than 2,500 adults across the country, asking what the North and South were fighting about. A majority, including two-thirds of white respondents in the 11 states that formed the Confederacy, answered that the South was mainly motivated by "states' rights" rather than the future of slavery.

Read the rest of the story . . .

Source: TIME Magazine

Posted by Staff on 4/10/11 at 6:17 pm EST

Monday, April 04, 2011

Today is the 43rd Anniversary of MLK's Assassinantion

On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., 39, was shot to death at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.

Posted by
Staff on 4/04/11 at 8:29 am EST

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy Hunting ~ Happy New Year

Happy 2011 to All

Posted by
VKN on 1/01/11 at 1:52 am EST

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Annette Gordon-Reed Named a MacArthur Fellow for "The Hemingses of Monticello"

Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed ’81 received the MacArthur Fellowship — commonly known as the “Genius Grant” — for her groundbreaking scholarship on the life and family of President Thomas Jefferson, the Foundation announced Tuesday.

Gordon-Reed, a professor at Harvard University’s undergraduate college and Harvard Law School, wrote the 2008 book “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” which traced the history of several generations of the slave family owned by Jefferson. The book won the National Book Award in 2008 and the Pulitzer Prize in 2009.

“I’m enormously grateful and humbled to be given this award,” Gordon-Reed told Harvard Law School News. “Of course I’ve known about MacArthur Fellowships for many years and wondered what it would be like to have someone call out of the blue and tell you you’ve won something like that. Now I know, and I have to say it’s a very good feeling.”

According to the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s website, the Fellowships are awarded each year to 23 individuals who have displayed “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” Gordon-Reed and the other fellows each receive $500,000 in payments over five years to further their careers and research.

Read the rest of the story . . .

Source: The Dartmouth

Posted by Staff on 9/29/10 at 8:12 am EST

Monday, July 19, 2010 and Lowcountry Africana Join Forces to Create a Free Interactive Slave Records Collection

Newly Digitized Records Preserve the Names of More Than 30,000 Slaves

SALT LAKE CITY - July 19, 2010 – Today ( and Lowcountry Africana ( announced the launch of a new free collection of historical records from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History containing estate inventories and bills of sale for Colonial and Charleston South Carolina from 1732 to 1872. FamilySearch International donated the copies of the microfilm of the original historical documents.

Charleston’s role as a port of entry during the Atlantic Slave Trade means many thousands of African Americans may have ancestors who came from, or through, South Carolina. This new collection on will assist African American genealogy research by forming, in many cases, a seamless paper trail from Emancipation to the 1700s.

"Research about African American history and genealogy has often been especially difficult because of limited access to primary source material," says Henry Louis Gates Jr., Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

" is spearheading a revolution in access to the black past by digitizing major portions of the black archive, and making these records available on the Internet. The publication of these records from South Carolina in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is the latest example of their bold commitment to resurrecting the African American past." provides an experience where visitors can access historical records and interact with those records and members of the Footnote community.
Visitors to can enhance these records from the South Carolina archives through various activities including:

  • Creating and sharing web pages about the documents and their discoveries
  • Adding their own insights and comments to the
  • Uploading and connecting their own photos, letters and documents
  • Annotating information on the documents, which creates a searchable database
"We are excited that Footnote has joined this collaboration because they offer family historians the ability to turn public records into personal history,” said Toni Carrier, Founding Director of Lowcountry Africana. "Nowhere else on the Internet can readers interact with historical records in such a meaningful way."

“South Carolina has one of the richest sets of early government records of social and cultural history, said Charles Lesser, Senior Archivist at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. “This new cooperative effort will revolutionize access to an especially important segment of those records.”

Lowcountry Africana has established an online volunteer program to create the searchable index for this collection. To learn more about this volunteer program or to sign up to be a volunteer, visit the Lowcountry Africana site.

To view these South Carolina records, please visit

Posted by Staff on 7/19/10 at 9:36 pm EST

Saturday, June 19, 2010

First African American in Georgia to be Inducted into National Society Sons of the American Revolution

The following announcement was written by the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution:

Atlanta, GA (June 15, 2010) -- On Tuesday, June 29th at 11:30 a.m., history will be made as the first African American in the state of Georgia will be inducted into the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR). In a ceremony at the Georgia State Capitol, Lieutenant Commander Michael Nolden Henderson, a retired U.S. Naval Officer and graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, will be acknowledged by induction into the Button Gwinnett Chapter, the Georgia Society SAR for his efforts in tracing his Louisiana Creole ancestry to an American Revolutionary War patriot.

Michael N. Henderson, USN Retired

Henderson, a native of New Orleans, La. who currently lives in metro-Atlanta, discovered his unique lineage while researching his French ancestry. His fourth generation great-grandfather, Mathieu Devaux, a French National, served as a militiaman under the command of the Spanish Governor General Bernardo de Galvez, who led troops in several major battles in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. Devaux had a relationship with his former slave, Agnes Mathieu, in Spanish Colonial Louisiana. Henderson is descendent from one of their seven children, all of whom were born free prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

Henderson first learned of the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution in 2006 when Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, discovered his own ancestral link to the Revolutionary War and one year later was himself inducted into the national lineage organization.

"I'm the first in my family to pursue membership in the NSSAR, so the process was especially detailed for me," says Henderson, who had to compile birth, marriage and death certificates, as well as other documents from the 1700s and 1800s to prove his connection to Devaux. "It was truly a labor of love and it's an honor to have my family tied to an American Revolutionary War patriot. I'm proud to be an example to others that they too can be a part of the narrative of America's history."

The story of Henderson's fourth generation great-grandparents and their connection to General Galvez is the subject of an upcoming segment on the PBS series "The History Detectives."

Source: Dick Eastman on June 15, 2010,

Posted by Staff on 6/19/10 at 5:00 am EST

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rare photo of slave children found in NC attic

A haunting 150-year-old photo found in a North Carolina attic shows a young black child named John, barefoot and wearing ragged clothes, perched on a barrel next to another unidentified young boy.

Art historians believe it's an extremely rare Civil War-era photograph of children who were either slaves at the time or recently emancipated.

The photo, which may have been taken in the early 1860s, was a testament to a dark part of American history, said Will Stapp, a photographic historian and founding curator of the National Portrait Gallery's photographs department at the Smithsonian Institution.

"It's a very difficult and poignant piece of American history," he said. "What you are looking at when you look at this photo are two boys who were victims of that history."

In April, the photo was found at a moving sale in Charlotte, accompanied by a document detailing the sale of John for $1,150, not a small sum in 1854.

New York collector Keya Morgan said he paid $30,000 for the photo album including the photo of the young boys and several family pictures and $20,000 for the sale document. Morgan said the deceased owner of the home where the photo was found was thought to be a descendant of John.

A portrait of slave children is rare, Morgan said.

"I buy stuff all the time, but this shocked me," he said.

What makes the picture an even more compelling find is that several art experts said it was created by the photography studio of Mathew Brady, a famous 19th-century photographer known for his portraits of historical figures such as President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Stapp said the photo was probably not taken by Brady himself but by Timothy O'Sullivan, one of Brady's apprentices. O'Sullivan took a multitude of photos depicting the carnage of the Civil War.

In 1862, O'Sullivan famously photographed a group of some of the first slaves liberated after Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Such photos were circulated in the North by abolitionists to garner support for the Union during the Civil War, said Harold Holzer, an author of several books about Lincoln. Holzer works as an administrator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Most of the photos depicted adult slaves who had been beaten or whipped, he said.

The photo of the two boys is more subtle, Holzer said, which may be why it wasn't widely circulated and remained unpublished for so long.

"To me, it's such a moving and astonishing picture," he said.

Ron Soodalter, an author and member of the board of directors at the Abraham Lincoln Institute in Washington, D.C., said the photo depicts the reality of slavery.

"I think this picture shows that the institution of slavery didn't pick or choose," said Soodalter, who has written several books on historic and modern slavery. "This was a generic horror. It victimized the old, the young."

For now, Morgan said, he is keeping the photo in his personal collection, but he said he has had an inquiry to sell the photo to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He said he is considering participating in the creation of a video documentary about John.

"This kid was abused and mistreated and people forgot about him," Morgan said. "He doesn't even exist in history. And to know that there were a million children who were like him. I've never seen another photo like that that speaks so much for children."

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Posted by
Staff on 6/11/10 at 7:36 am EST


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