History Detectives Offer Tips for Genealogy Research

 

Watch the full episode. See more History Detectives.

While it is often difficult to uncover written documentation about slave ancestors, it is not always impossible. Having a plan, being logical and systematic, learning what resources might be available and locating those that are extant, in short - following the process, and paying attention to clues in written records or oral histories - can illuminate your family history.

What "History Detectives" and "Who Do You Think You Are?" series don't tell you is how much coordination, flexibility, pure hard work and study time is needed to do genealogical research well.

Never forget that Henry Louis Gates didn't do all that research himself! Nor did he include all his known ancestors! He had a cadre of researchers in the fields, courthouses, and probably on the computer working on his persons of interest. The further back in time one goes, the greater the number of direct ancestors. When you hit the proverbial genealogical brick wall on a particular person, there are always other dead relatives to investigate! Try to keep your research in perspective.

This video encourages African Americans to give genealogical research a try. We of the Beaufort District Collection encourage you as well. That's why we offer the basic African American genealogy class from time to time. (Heads up: The next basic genealogy class is set for May 15th in the Bluffton Branch computer lab. Visit the Library calendar for more information.)

By the way, this video shows two images with direct connection to Beaufort District. First up is the image of a African American Family Group on Smith's Plantation -- near Fort Frederick but now the site of the Beaufort Naval Hospital! The individual slaves are not identified by name but contemporary records (1863) indicate the location where the photograph was taken.

The second image with direct relationship to Beaufort District is the watercolor known as "The Old Plantation." It was painted by one of the four John Roses of Beaufort District. Stay tuned in to Connections during March to learn which John Rose painted the watercolor.

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
 
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.