Sunday, February 10, 2013

From Slavery to Freedom and Cluster Genealogy

African-American Genealogy Seminar at the Main Library
This year the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton Co. and the Hamilton County Genealogical Society co-sponsored a two-session seminar featuring Deborah Abbott PhD. Anyone who has ever tried to do African-American genealogy knows the challenges faced when trying to trace ancestors who may have been slaves in pre-Civil War records. Using case studies, Dr. Abbott showed how she was able to identify her family by researching every possible line and neighbors, black and white, through multiple record sources. One of her main messages to the audience was the amount of patience and the years of searching that may be required to solve some of these genealogical problems. In addition, most answers are not going to be online and definitely not the result of "shaking leaves."

The afternoon session focused on "Cluster Genealogy." To quote Elizabeth Shown Mills, this method incorporates "FAN - Friends, Acquaintances and Neighbors." Our ancestors were not as mobile as we and tended to move in groups. If you can't track your ancestor, try looking at the neighbors. Through case studies, we discovered the circuitous route researchers must often pursue to put the puzzle together.

If you are now kicking yourself for not attending, there is good news. Dr. Abbott will be returning to Cincinnati in April and giving two presentations as part of the OGS Conference. Both talks are scheduled for Friday, April 26th. This was discussed in an earlier post. You can click on this link to read more about it.

Submitted by Kathy Reed

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