Start with the basics

This guide was last updated in 2009

As with any genealogical enquiry, it's a good idea to start with what you already know about yourself and your family.

Talk to family members and look for personal artefacts, birth certificates, and photographs, etc to help you discover such information as dates of births, marriages and deaths, the extended family and relationships, names, locations and occupations. Many families have long oral histories, which may include information on enslaved and African forebears.

Once you have an outline history of your family use church and official records, such as records of births, marriages and deaths, employment records and wills to verify the information and to add further information.

As you work your way back to the 1830s you need to find any information which will help you find where your enslaved ancestors lived and worked, and if possible the names of slave holders.

The BBC guide to enslaved ancestors is also a good place to get started.

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