One of the things that has contributed greatly to my growth as a genealogist has been reading professional genealogical journals. The tendency when you begin genealogy is to think that if the article isn’t specifically on your family or your location, that it isn’t relevant. Oh contraire! What dawned on me after many years was that you read the journals to learn about new resources and new methodology–it doesn’t matter really what the subject matter itself is. You read to get a better sense of the professional genealogist’s though process. When I finally got that through my thick skull, I was off and running and learning in leaps and bounds.
For those of us researching enslaved ancestors, we know this is some of the most difficult research the field will ever see, for a multitude of reasons. I have a collection of slavery-related journal articles I’ve gathered through the years that have helped me over some pretty big stumbling blocks. I’d like to share the list with you and encourage you to order copies and add them to your own collection of research “tools”. I walk through several of these articles as case studies in my genealogy class.
I tend to favor National Genealogical Society (NGS) Quarterly, but it’s not the only game in town. There are also publications like The American Genealogist, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register and state journals like The Virginia Genealogist. Find one (or a few that you like) and preferably can subscribe to. I also subscribe to historical journals, like the Maryland Historical Magazine, since that is one of my research states. Let me point out that these are scholarly journals, not for the faint of heart but for those who are looking to take their skills to the next level.
There are a couple of different ways you can get copies of these articles. If you are a member of NGS, you can download PDF files of NGS Quarterly from their website from 2002-present. Your regional National Archives or State Archives are likely to own a collection and you could copy them if so. You could also download the PERSI form from the Allen County Library and order the copies from them to be delivered to your home for a copying fee.
I consider these articles to be a part of my arsenal, and the brilliance of the authors continually amaze me. I hope you read a few–if you do, let me know which one(s) were your favorite and why.
African-American/Slave/Slavery-Related NGS Articles
- Curtis Brasfield, “To My Daughter and the Heirs of her Body: Slave Passages as Illustrated by the Latham-Smithwick Family,” NGS Quarterly 81 (December 1993): 270-282.
- Rudena Kramer Mallory, “An African-American Odyssey through Multiple Surnames: Mortons, Tapps, and Englishes of Kansas and Missouri,” NGS Quarterly 85 (March 1997)25-38.
- Curtis Brasfield, “Tracing Slave Ancestors: Batchelor, Bradley, Branch and Wright of Desha County, Arkansas,” NGS Quarterly 92 (March 2004): 6-30.
- Ruth Randall, “An Interracial Suit for Inheritance: Clues to Probable Paternity for a Georgia Freedmen, Henry Clay Heard Sherman,” NGS Quarterly 89 (June 2001): 85-97.
- Ruth Randall, “Family Lore and Effects of Slavery on the Black Psyche: Rosa Grammar’s Choice,” NGS Quarterly 97 (June 2009): 85-96
- Gary B. Mills, “Can Researchers ‘Prove’ the ‘Unproveable’? A Selective Bibliography of Efforts to Genealogically Document Children of Master-Slave Relationships,” NGS Quarterly 89 (September 2001): 234-237.
- Douglas Shipley, “Teaming Oral History with Documentary Research: The Enslaved Austins of Missouri’s Little Dixie,” NGS Quarterly 90 (June 2002): 111-135.
- Del E. Jupiter, “Matilda Madrid: One Woman’s Tale of Bondage and Freedom,” NGS Quarterly 91 (March 2003): 41-59
- Christopher A. Nordmann, “Jumping Over the Broomstick: Resources for Documenting Slave Marriages,” NGS Quarterly 91 (September 2003): 196-216.
- Gary B. Mills, “Tracing Free People of Color in the Antebellum South: Methods, Sources and Perspectives,” NGS Quarterly 78 (December 1990): 262-278
- Del E. Jupiter, “From Augustina to Ester: Analyzing a Slave Household for Child-Parent Relationships,” NGS Quarterly 85 (December 1997): 245-275.
- Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Which Marie Louise is ‘Mariotte’? Sorting Slaves with Common Names,” NGS Quarterly 94 (September 2006): 183-204.
- C. Bernard Ruffin III, “In Search of the Unappreciated Past: The Ruffin-Cornick Family of Virginia,” NGS Quarterly 81 (June 1993): 126-138.
- Katherine E. Flynn, “Jane Johnson, Found! But Is She ‘Hannah Crafts’? The Search for the Author of The Bondwoman’s Narrative,” NGS Quarterly 90 (September 2002): 165-190.
- Donna R. Mills, “Racheal ‘Fanny’ Devereaux/Martin of Alabama and Florida, A Free Woman of Color,” The American Genealogist 70 (January 1995): 37-41.
- Ruth Randall, “A Family for Suzanne,” NGS Quarterly 95 (December 2007): 281-302
- Cameron Allen, “Lucinda Depp and Her Descendants: A Freed Black Family of Virginia and Ohio,” The Genealogist 17 (Spring 2003): 3-36.
- Johni Cerny, “From Maria to Bill Cosby: A Case Study in Tracing Black Slave Ancestry,” NGS Quarterly 75 (March 1987): 5-14.
- Rachel Mills Lennon, “Mother, Thy Name is Mystery! Finding the Slave Who Bore Philomene Daurat,” NGS Quarterly 88 (September 2000): 201-224.
- Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Documenting a Slave’s Birth, Parentage and Origins: Marie Therese Coincoin, 1742-1816: A Test of Oral History”, NGS Quarterly 96 (December 2008); 245-266.
- Daniela Moneta, “Virginia Pughs and North Carolina Wests: A Genetic Link from Slavery in Kentucky,” NGS Quarterly 97 (September 2009): 179-194.
My favorites are the articles by Ruth Randall, Curtis Brasfield and any of the Mills clan. This list is by no means all-inclusive, and if you know about some I haven’t included but should, please do submit them via comments.
We should all be working towards the goal of possibly publishing our own research in one of these esteemed journals. That’s one of my personal goals.
Until then, happy reading, family!