Posted: September 15, 2011 Filed under: African-American Ancestry | Tags: ancestry, black family, database, unknown no longer, virginia historical society
I am always trying to find my ancestors. I primarily search on ancestry.com. First, I couldn’t get pass my great-grandmother. All I could find was that she was born in Virginia but they didn’t have any information on her parents. I was searching for two years. Then somehow, I found my great-grandmother’s parents. Her mom was an extremely young mother. I also learned that her father was a farmer born in the 1890s. It was very thrilling to find that bit of information but I wish there was more. I know that most African-Americans have a difficult time trying to discover their beginnings. The reason being is slave masters didn’t keep records of their slaves. But this free service that the Virginia Historical Society has offered, help individuals search for their ancestors by “jobs, plantations, and birthdates”.
The Virginia Historical Society has created a website to help some descendants Virginia slaves trace their family history.
The website, “Unknown No Longer”, will help genealogists trace their roots through birthdates, jobs and plantations.
“I’m overjoyed that we’re finally able to bring this to the public,” said Dr. Lauranett Lee.
For one year, Dr. Lee has been researching, studying and scanning countless records. Dr. Lee and her colleagues from the Virginia Historical Society are digitizing rare documents in their collection.
Looking at slaveholding documents across the commonwealth has not been done before. Each document is different,” said Dr. Lee.
“The names that appear in the data base are of Virginians who mostly enslaved people before the Civil War,” said Dr. Nelson Lankford.
The documents include letters, family bibles, wills and the ledgers of slave holders from across Virginia.
“These kinds of nuggets of information will help a researcher put together a story. Put flesh on an ancestors history,” said Dr. Lee.
About 1,500 names of enslaved people will be listed on line initially, but with millions of documents to pour over more and more names will be appear over time.
“It may seem like this is just 1,500 names at this point,” said Dr. Lee. “But it’s 1,500 names that we now know. 1,500 names that we didn’t know before.”
Conducting research on the Virginia Historical Website is absolutely free.
Can’t wait to try it out. I would love to know more about my family history.