African American families on Geni

Started by Pam Wilson on Friday, January 14, 2011


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Showing 1-30 of 38 posts
1/14/2011 at 9:05 AM

Do you have an African American family tree on Geni? Let us know about it!

There is currently not a high visibility of African American families on Geni (through Projects, Curator representation, and public discussions).

The Geni curators would definitely like to see more involvement and inclusion of African American families in Geni, and we would appreciate recommendations of some of the more active family history researchers in this area about how to improve coverage and start more African American projects. Post your links, ideas and suggestions here.

1/14/2011 at 9:46 AM

My family is Caribbean/Caribbean American. There is not a high visibility here either. Or many resources online, in general, for us West Indians. My wife's family is African American and tri-racial.

1/14/2011 at 9:48 AM

Pam, I'm not sure if you can see my family discussions, but check them out please.

1/14/2011 at 9:58 AM

Hi Kenneth! No, I can't see your family discussions (they are limited to family group members), but I'd be very interested in helping you start some projects. One might be focused on West Indies and Caribbean ancestry, and the other on tri-racial groups in the Southeastern US.

For the Caribbean project, I recommend working hand in hand with curator Angus Wood-Salomon who is Trinidadian himself.

I know that several of us, including myself and Private User, are interested in the tri-racial groups that have intermixed black, white and Indian bloodlines. An excellent introduction to this is found on Terry Snyder's blog at

1/14/2011 at 11:06 AM

Yes, I'd love working with you on these two projects! I'll connect with Maria.

Someone else has already recommended Angus to me. We have already started working together.

1/14/2011 at 11:31 AM

Hey Kwame,

I am going to get two projects going this weekend:

- Black Cowboys
- Melungeon

Are there any other topics that would particularly interest African Americans / Caribbean Americans?

Private User
1/14/2011 at 11:48 AM

Our family is African American and we respresent pretty good here.

1/14/2011 at 12:12 PM

That's good to hear, Natalie.

I guess I have a couple of survey type questions.

- Why has your family selected the geni platform vs other applications?

- Is the Blog generating articles of interest? Are there any you'd like to see? For instance, Black History Month is coming up -- should we be "specially featuring" ? Any suggestions?

- What tools, resources and documents would you like to see more available to help you research? For instance, we just got the Dawes Roll for tracking American Indian (5 "friendly" tribe) ancestry here:

Private User
1/14/2011 at 12:53 PM

Hello Kwame,
While I, myself, am white, I have distant cousins who are Melungeon, and would be willing to help with any projects in that area., as would Erica, my fellow curator.

Also, I have found some sources for the Buffalo Soldiers. If someone wants to work on a project about this historical group, I would be happy to help launch such a project.

If you have other project ideas, please list them for us. We can give guidance on projects outside our own areas of interest. All we need is to know what help you need from us.

1/14/2011 at 2:34 PM

Erica, I am interested in the Black Cowboys (I used to be a public speaker on the subject) and Melungeon.

For African Americans it would be the cemeteries. For Caribbean Americans, there are a variety of subjects, especially the African nation origins and the various newer ethnic groups, such as the Chinese and East Indians?

1/14/2011 at 2:57 PM

I was just thinking about the Indians from India who went to live in the Caribbean - are you a fan of the writing of V.S. Naipul?

We need you on Black Cowboys! Does Stagecoach Mary belong in the Project?

Mary Fields

1/14/2011 at 3:13 PM

Yes, apparently she is claimed by Black Cowboys, cool.

I started the Project. Can I work on Nat Love?

1/14/2011 at 3:14 PM

Everyone is welcome! This is a great part of little known history. There was a very brief segment on the History Channel a few weeks back -- "The Story of US" show done for A&E originally. I wanted to know more!

1/14/2011 at 3:22 PM

I just had another thought, similar to gravesite photo exchange.

Subscriptions to record sites such as are expensive. Maybe we can do exchanges? In other words, share resources and offer to do lookups.

One person may subscribe to and do a lookup. Another to, do a lookup. We could have dedicated threads.

This isn't African-American specifically of course but would be relevant to trying to build out a tree across countries. We need people in the Caribbean, for instance, with access to local records. Maybe this is how we can find them and return the favor.

What say you all? Idea?

1/14/2011 at 4:01 PM

Hi Maria, I am very interested in Blacks in Colonial Times, especially in the Northern cities, Philly, NYC, and Boston.

1/14/2011 at 4:03 PM

Nat Love Stagecoach Mary, and tons of saloon keepers, tanslators and innkeepers.

1/14/2011 at 6:54 PM

Erica, I would make the Melungeon project broader to include all tri-racial groups (see Tri-Racial Isoliates if you look on Google). Melungeons have a very specific geographical location and history and the term is not broadly used to apply to all the mixed-race groups, such as the Lumbees. To quote Terry Snyder (blog cited above):

<<Other famous tri-racial isolate communities include, North Carolina’s Lumbee Indians (from which the actress, Heather Locklear, descends), the Carmel Indians of Highland County, Ohio and the Redbones of South Carolina and Louisiana. The article, “ ‘Verry Slitly Mixt’: Tri-Racial Isolate Families of the Upper South – A Genealogical Study” by Virginia Easley DeMarce, states that “Ethnologists have identified approximately thirty-five tri-racial isolate communities in the eastern half of the United States (or up to two hundred, if one counts small groups.)”>>

1/14/2011 at 7:20 PM

Kenneth, I am in complete agreement regarding Caribbean/West Indian families. I was just yesterday contemplating the need for a project for us from that region to collaborate. Our ancestry is so complicated for a slew of reasons -- so many ethnic origins, so much governmental turnover, so many natural disasters wiping out records, etc. -- and working together would be wonderful. If anyone gets a project up and running, please share details here!

For what it's worth, I'm first-generation Bahamian-American and have spent much time there, including doing genealogical research. If there's anyone else Bahamian kicking around -- I've searched the discussions area and not found anything -- please do connect with me.

Private User
1/14/2011 at 8:13 PM

Kwame, most of my ancestors are Virginia and south, except for a few stray Quakers.

EH -- who do we know who could help on black populations in Philly, NYC and Boston? Can we tempt Brendan with this one?

J. Ashley -- I don't know anyone who is Bahamian but we do have a wonderful curator from Trinidad. He might know something. Angus Wood-Salomon. You might contact him and ask if he knows anyone from that area that could help you.

1/14/2011 at 8:38 PM

Thanks, Maria! I did just create a Bahamians project and am hoping to recruit some new Geni members from the various Bahamian genealogy websites out there. Many of them are exceptional at working with free slave records, so it would be a great addition to this site.

1/14/2011 at 8:50 PM

Hi Natalie--tell me about your ancestors--where did they live and how far back can you get? Where have you gotten most of your information, from personal family records (like family bibles and oral history) or from public records?

1/15/2011 at 1:42 PM


Have you thought of reaching out to the librarians/ archivists / genealogy organizations /historical societies in the Bahamas, or those also researching?

I've gotten very good responses from email inquires to those sorts of folk. They are eager for the publicity and to provide more resources to their own customers as well.

1/15/2011 at 1:44 PM


I was wondering about sub projects for the over 200 groups of "Tri Racial Isolates." Thanks for validating my thinking on it.

Is the umbrella "Tri-Racial Isolate Groups" too cumbersome as the name? Kind of overly anthropological, isn't it? Can we come up with something jazzier?

I would do a subproject / associated project, Melungeons of Hancock County, Tennessee, and start with moonshiner Mahala Collins.

1/15/2011 at 1:45 PM

How about just "Tri Racial" ?

1/15/2011 at 1:50 PM


When I get there I'm particularly interested in Creoles of Tennessee and the Carolinas. That is most likely where I'll find my own ancestry so I'm being selfish.

For NYC, where I live, it might be fun to do an "occupational" project. For instance my house is a former livery stable, and that was one of the "color blind" occupations.

1/15/2011 at 2:11 PM

I think "Black, White or Indian? Tri-Racial Communities of the Eastern United States" or something like that would work. I don't like the term "isolates" either.

1/15/2011 at 2:24 PM

One advantage -- or not? -- of the term "Tri-Racial!" is that it could open the door to other Creole groups as the umbrella. So there could be a structure:

... Tri-Racial Communities of the Eastern US <oy that's long>
...... Tri-Racial Communities of the Eastern US: Hancock County, TN

1/15/2011 at 5:55 PM

NPR had a recent article on cowboy music with a lot on the Black Cowboy. I have an interest in this topic as well.

1/15/2011 at 11:12 PM

Pam, a suggestion, how about creating a discussion Caribbean/ Caribbean American Families in Geni.

As I mentioned in our discussions previously, the Afro Americans and the Caribbean Americans are two different entities.

I am looking at this not from within the US and I might be wrong, but I migrated to Canada at an early age 15yrs but I returned to Trinidad to get married at 21yrs, I have returned for visits every year or every other year so I am very familiar still with my Trinidadian culture and in my opinion we have different histories.

1/16/2011 at 12:40 AM

Great idea, Angus. Why don't you do that? Then we could discuss the issues separately.

Showing 1-30 of 38 posts

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