Posts Tagged ‘Interviews’

Oral History Key to Tracing African American Roots

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
Joseph Washington 1895-2002

Joseph Washington 1895-2002

In more than thirty years of researching my ancestry and the lives of African Americans enslaved on Wessyngton Plantation, I have had the honor of interviewing more than twenty individuals whose parents or grandparents lived on the plantation.  These individuals ranged in age from eighty to 107 years old.

Although I found hundreds of documents about my ancestors from plantation records written by the owners of Wessyngton, I learned many personal things about my ancestors from conducting interviews with elder family members. 

In 1994, I visited my cousin Joseph Washington 1895-2002 (pictured above) at his home in Mansfield, Ohio on his one hundred second birthday.  As a child Joseph lived next door to my great-great-grandparents Emanuel and Henny Washington who were born at Wessyngton in the early 1800s.  He related many stories about them to me including ghost stories that my great-great-grandfather used to tell all the children on the plantation and songs he used to sing.  Joseph told me what life was like on the plantation when he grew up there and how many people on the plantation were related to one another.

Oral history is a vital key to tracing African American genealogy and  provides many details about our ancestors that can’t be found in records.

Genealogy Tips #1

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

1.  Start with yourself


     The first step in tracing genealogy is to start with yourself and work backwards. 

      Start with what you know such as the names of parents, grandparents etc. then search

      for the unknown.


2.  Interview older relatives


     Older family members can give you personal information about your ancestors      

      not found in official records.  They may also give you information that will lead you          

      you to other genealogical resources such as the names of extended family members,

      locations where family members lived during a certain period, birth, marriage, and

      death dates of family members.  Always record the interviews if possible.


3.  Copy old photographs


     Copy all old family photographs and share them with family members.  Be sure to

      record the names of all persons featured in photographs on the back.  We have all

      seen old photographs of family members that no one can identify.


4. Share information with family members.


     Always share what you find with family members.  If you share information others

      will likely share with you. 


5.  Organize your work


     Always organize your research and cite sources so the information you find is

      useful to others.

President Barack Obama’s Historic Election- Video

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
I invite to watch a short video in which I discuss the historic election of our first African American president:
President Obama’s Historic Election