Tracing African-American Enslaved Peoples & Families: 10 Free books to get you started

Photo: Maria Weems escapes on the Underground Railroad – 1872 Engraving

The Underground Railroad Collection – New York Public Library Digital Collections

Tracing African-American enslaved people in your family tree can be more difficult due to lack of records or knowing where to look for records. Here is a free book list of helpful resources from the Internet Archive.

You can borrow them and read for free you after you create a free account. Click the links below.


  1. The African-American Family’s Guide to Tracing Our Roots: Healing, Understanding & Restoring Our Families by Roland C. Barksdale Hall – 2005 – Covers many topics like “How to begin”, tracing slave ancestors & looking for free people.

2. Black Genesis: A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy by James M. Rose & Alice Eicholz – 2003 (2nd Edition) – Covers overview and survey of states.


3. A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors : How to find and record your unique heritage by Franklin Carter Smith & Emily Anne Croom – 2003 – Covers census and state and local records and archives.


4. Black Roots: A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African-American Family Family Tree by Tony Burrows – 2001 – Includes case histories, illustrations and photos of documents, tips and forms/worksheets.


5. Finding a Place Called Home: A Guide to African-American Genealogy and Historical Identity by Dee Woodter – 1999 – Covers historical overview, Caribbean ancestry, Native American ancestry, records, reconstructing families.


6. Finding Your People: An African-American Guide to Discovering Your Roots by Sandra Lee Jamison – 1999 – Covers lineage and pedigree documents, census and other records, surnames, family reunions.


7. Finding Oprah’s Roots: Finding Your Own by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. – 2007 – Host of the PBS TV show “Finding Your Roots” gives tips and guidance on finding African-American heritage.


8. Roots Recovered! The How To Guide for for tracing African-American and West Indian roots back to Africa and going there for free or on a shoestring budget by James E. White & Jean-Gontran Quenum – 2004 – More of a travel guide but contains good information on DNA groups and source information on researching African-American roots.


9. African American Genealogy: A Bibliography and Guide to Sources by Curt Bryan Witcher – 2000 – Guide to sources by State.


10. Family Pride: The Complete Guide to Tracing African-American Genealogy by Donna Beasley – 1997 – Covers how to begin, oral history, resources and writing about your history.


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