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How genealogy is used to track Black family histories

The Freedmen's Bureau, owned and operated by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is a free database available to track Black ancestry in the U.S.
The Freedmen's Bureau, owned and operated by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is a free database available to track Black ancestry in the U.S.

Our names are important to us. They tell us who we are and often, who we come from.

So imagine suddenly discovering the last name you’ve always carried… might not actually be the name you should have.  

Alex Neason began looking into her family’s history after discovering her great grandfather’s name was different from what she believed for her whole life. In her search to discover the story of that last name, she enlisted genealogist Nicka Sewell-Smith.

For Black Americans, genealogy can fill in the blanks left by the legacy of slavery and racism in the U.S. Services like the Freedmen’s Bureau and Slave Voyages provide free access to records and documents to help with that search.

We talk about the power of genealogy in fostering knowledge and connection for Black Americans.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Arfie Ghedi
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