The search for family origin has been a preoccupation of African Americans for centuries, long before Alex Haley's Roots
. The task has become easier in recent years, thanks to the advent of the Internet and genealogy organizations. Now add Tony Burroughs's excellent primer, Black Roots
, to the list of necessary research tools. Written for the general reader, Burroughs details the best methods and research techniques for mapping family histories, and explains how to navigate the endless labyrinths of myths, stories, omissions, and official records. "Genealogy is important for kids to know their heritage, who their ancestors are and what they accomplished," he writes. "If African American youngsters learn genealogy early enough, it can make a big difference in their lives. Genealogy can not only help kids understand the world but can give them respect for their elders, bridge generation gaps, and heal family wounds."
Using case histories as examples, Burroughs outlines six phases of African American genealogy: oral histories; family research to 1870; the identification of the last slave owner; the research of the owner's background; a trip to Africa; and research in Canada and the Caribbean. Burroughs shows how to research birth, marriage, and death certificates; obituaries; social security records; and even trace histories in other countries and across racial lines. With over 100 illustrations, photographs of real documents, and sample worksheets, Burroughs has put together a comprehensive guide for prospective genealogists. "Now that you have assumed the position of family historian, remember that it comes with responsibilities," he writes. "You are entrusted with the responsibility to trace your family history thoroughly and accurately." After all, your descendents are counting on you. --Eugene Holley Jr.
About the Author
is an internationally known genealogist, and author, who teaches genealogy at Chicago State University. He lectures throughout the United States on all aspects of genealogy, serves on the Board of Trustees for the Association of Professional Genealogists as well as other national boards, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the National Genealogical Society. He has traced two family lines back seven generations. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.