Broad interest in African American genealogical research increased during the Civil Rights Movement of the twentieth century and exploded after the publication of Alex Haley's novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, in 1976 and television network ABC's wildly popular adaptation of the book into a miniseries in 1977. Around the same time, the flowering of African and African American studies in higher education led to the production of several first-rate reference books and how-to guides for students, genealogists, and ordinary people interested in researching their own ancestry. Many of the guides published around the 1990s continue to be some of the best resources for African American genealogical research, including Charles L. Blockson's Black Genealogy (1991) and Tony Burrough's Black Roots: A Beginner's Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree (2001). Advancements in computer and communications technology and genetic testing for ancestry over the past thirty years have greatly expanded the kinds of resources now available to researchers.
Black Genesis: A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy by James M. Rose and Alice Eicholz. 2nd Edition. Baltimore, Md. : Genealogical Pub. Co., 2003. ISBN 0806317353
Black Genealogy by Charles L. Blockson with Ron Fry. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice-Hall, 1977. ISBN 0130776858. Republished in 1991 by Black Classic Press, Baltimore, Md.
A Student’s Guide to African American Genealogy by Anne E. Johnson and Adam Merton Cooper. Phoenix, Ariz. :Oryx Press, 1996. ISBN 0897749723
Black Roots: A Beginner’s Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs. New York : Fireside Book, c2001. ISBN 068487043
Family Pride: The Complete Guide to Tracing African-American Genealogy by Donna Beasley, with Foreword by William Haley. New York, NY : Macmillan USA, c1997. ISBN 0028608429
Finding a Place Called Home: A Guide to African-American Genealogy and Historical Identity by Dee Parmer Woodtor. New York : Random House, c1999. ISBN 037570843X
Finding Your People: An African-American Guide to Discovering Your Roots by Sandra Lee Jamison. New York : Perigee Books, 1999. ISBN 0399524789
Afro-American Genealogy Sourcebook by Tommie Morton Young. New York : Garland Pub., 1987. ISBN 0824086848
A Comprehensive Name Index for the American Slave compiled by Howard E. Potts with Forward by Charles Joyner. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1997. ISBN 0313292043
Generations Past: A Selected List of Sources for Afro-American Genealogical Research compiled by Sandra M. Lawson. Washington: Library of Congress : For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., 1988. ISBN 084440604X
Websites and Databases:
Black Past Digital Archives
BlackPast.org is an online reference center makes available a wealth of materials on African American history in one central location on the Internet. The digital archives page lists major digitized archival holdings in African American history. The archives are grouped by state.
Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' Genealogy Research Guide
This guide identifies a select list of resources of digital collections, subscriptions, print and online resources relating to American biography, family history, genealogy, and local history. The list highlights some of the subscription-based electronic resources available to researchers from the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives.
U.S. Black Heritage Project
This project is a sub-project of the United States Project and the Global Black Heritage Project. It's mission is:
Although not focused on African American genealogy, these sources can help the novice researcher get started or the experienced researcher get unstuck.
The Genealogist’s Address Book by Elizabeth P. Bentley. 4th Edition. Baltimore, Md. : Genealogical Pub. Co., c1998. ISBN 0806315806
The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood. 3th Edition. Baltimore, Md. : Genealogical Pub. Co., 2000. ISBN 0806316217. A 4th Edition of The Researcher’s Guide was published in 2017. ISBN 978-0806320663
A Field Guide for Genealogists by Judy Jacobson. 2nd Edition. Baltimore, Md. : Genealogical Pub. Co., 2008. ISBN 978-0806352190
In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed their Past by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York : Crown Publishers, c2009. ISBN 9780307382405
Descent by Lauren Russell. Saxtons River, VT : TS/Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2020. ISBN 9781939460219
Footprints on the Sands: A History and Genealogy of the Blueford-Turner Family. Dayton, Ohio : Challenge Press, [between 1999 and 2000]. LCCN 2002401077
Mississippi to Africa: A Journey of Discovery by Malvin J. Collier with Forward by Rick A. Kittles.. Westminister, MD. : Heritage Books, Inc., 2008. A 2nd Edition of Mississippi to Africa was published in 2012.
A Quest for Enslaved Ancestors: The Extended Family of Griffin Fountain of Virginia and North Carolina by Barnetta McGhee White. Baltimore, Md. : Gateway Press; Durham, NC : B.M. White, 2002. LCCN 2001098700
Duke University Library Research Guides
Family History and Genealogy - This guide includes sections on genealogy tools and forms; online genealogy resources; genealogy resources in Duke University Libraries; acronyms, jargon & abbreviations used in genealogy; African American Ancestor Research; and Native American Ancestor Research.
African American Studies - Discover Duke collections in African American studies and learn where to search for books, articles, media, primary sources, and data related to topics in the discipline.
African American History Manuscript Collections in the Rubenstein Library - Among the voluminous items of archival and manuscript materials in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is a wealth of material concerning African American history and culture. This guide highlights single items and multi-box collections that center African American experiences.
African American Women's History Resources at Rubenstein Library - This guide highlights material within the holdings of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library ranging from the early days of slavery to the present that document African American women's stories, many of which can be found just underneath the surface.
Other Library Research Guides
Enoch Pratt Free Library Guide to African American Genealogy
Moorland-Springarn Research Center's "Genealogical Research and the Moorland-Springard Research Center” Research Guide
Avery Research Center for African and African American History Guide to Genealogy
State Library of North Carolina #Everything NC Genealogy Guide
Library of Congress African American Family Histories and Genealogies Resource Guide
Library of Congress African American Genealogical Research Guide