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Celebrating Black History All Year Long!

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Forming a Love of Family History

by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the host and executive producer of the PBS program, "African American Lives." This critically-acclaimed series serves as a testament to Professor Gates’s unwavering passion for helping people discover their family history. Read more »

One of the transformative moments of my life occurred when my grandfather, Edward Gates, died in 1960. I was ten years old. Following his burial, my father showed me my grandfather's scrapbooks. And there, buried in those yellowing pages of newsprint, was an obituary--the obituary, to my astonishment, of our family matriarch, an ex-slave named Jane Gates. "An estimable colored woman," the obituary said, also mentioning that she had been a mid-wife. "That woman was Pop's grandmother," my father said, quietly. "She is your great-great-grandmother. And she is the oldest Gates."

I was fascinated. I wanted to know how I got here from there: from the mysterious and shadowy preserve of slavery in the depths of the black past. I became obsessed with my family tree, and peppered my father with questions about the names and dates of my ancestors, which, ever so dutifully, I wrote down in a notebook.  

I knew I had white ancestors. My father, his six brothers, and their sister, were clearly part white. I wanted to learn the names of both my black and white ancestors. I remember poring over ads in the backs of magazines that encouraged readers to send in their names and twenty dollars or so, in exchange for one of those colorful European coats of arms, the sort one would see hanging on the wall of a castle in England. I thought about ordering one for the Gates family. I knew it wouldn't have anything to do with me, necessarily, but who could be sure? As I got older, I even allowed myself to dream about learning the name of the very tribe we had come from in Africa.

I became an historian, in part, I think, out of this desire to know myself more fully, which, of course, over time became a desire to understand others as well: to learn about the past of my people, the African American people, and, ultimately, the past of my nation. Finding my own roots has been my lifelong quest ever since my grandfather's funeral. But there was always a problem in this search. And if you're black, and have tried to trace your roots, you know it well: slavery. Slavery was, among many other evil things, a systemic effort to rob blacks of all family ties and the most basic sense of self-knowledge. With very few exceptions, each slave had one name only, a first name. And, good luck building a family tree for somebody who only has one name.

After decades of being frustrated by this experience, I decided to do something about it. Over the past four years, I have been producing a documentary series for PBS called African American Lives, which traces the family histories of prominent African Americans back to slavery and beyond. We track down every little scrap of paper we can find about our subjects, and when the paper trail ends, inevitably, in the abyss of slavery, we look at something that our ancestors from Africa brought with them that not even the slave trade could take away: our distinctive strands of DNA. With cells collected from the insides of our mouths, geneticists can compare our genetic material to DNA samples taken from people on the African continent. The process is a bit like matching finger prints on "CSI."

The series was a risky experiment at first--no one had tried this before-- but it has turned out to be a remarkably rewarding experience. I have learned more about myself and my people than I ever imagined possible. And I am very curious, to see what you all think about this work.

As a parent, as well as an historian, I also encourage you to introduce your children to their family history. A great way to start is by showing them photo albums and scrapbooks from the past. That's how my father got my attention. Look for family documents such as obituaries, birth certificates, diplomas - - anything that might show your ancestors' names and details of their lives. Talk to older family members. Track down distant relatives. And, write everything down! You might also want to check out A Beginner's Guide to Tracing Your Roots for more ideas.

If you've already introduced your children to their ancestry, how did you go about it?


Comments

Joanna writes...

I have seen your first installment on PBS about Oprah. I also checked your book out of the library. I have been thoroughly fascinated.

We adopted our African American daughter a year ago as an infant. We are caucasian. We have very little information about her birth family. Do you recommend getting the dna test done on her this early? We are really hoping to find SOMETHING about her past to help her feel a part of something more.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Joanna,

First, congratulations on successfully adopting your daughter. I would suggest that you ask your question directly to Mr. Bennett Greenspan, the CEO of FamilyTreeDNA.com, and my partner in the creation of AfricanDNA.com. His e-mail address is bcg@familytreedna.com. But, I would think that getting your daughter’s DNA tested could yield fascinating information for you - and eventually for your child - about her distant ancestors.

In African American Lives 2, we included Linda Johnson Rice as one of our guests. And, as Linda and I discussed in the series, she was adopted. The family tree that our genealogists constructed was for her adoptive family, while her DNA results were for her biological ancestors. The same would be true for your daughter.

Thank you for writing me. Best of luck with your search.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Marilyn writes...

I am a 38 year-old Latino woman who is eager to found out about my family roots. I have watch you do some brief historal background check with people like Tina Turner and Chris Rock. Can you help me found my true historially family infromation. See most of the photos in my family are no where to be found and the ones which do exsist I would not know where to start. I also will take the suggestion on researching the Beginners guide to tracing your roots.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Marilyn, Isaac, Christler, Bertha and Cecilia,

I am so happy and honored that you liked my latest PBS series, African American Lives 2, and that you have taken the time to write to me.

I believe that everyone should attempt to trace their family tree. In the last chapter of my most recent book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own," I provide a very detailed outline about how to go about it yourself. Rather than repeat it here, I would ask you to look at this essay in my book.

Because so many people have asked me how to trace their family trees, I have started a company that provides this service at a fairly modest fee. In fact, the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in the African American Lives series will create your family tree. Just go to AfricanDNA.com, and you will be able to examine the family tree options that our company provides.

In addition, on TheRoot.com – a web magazine that I started with The Washington Post – you will find ancestry tools that allow you to create your own family tree and share it with family and friends. Thank you.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Sherdina Long writes...

My family starts in Lilly Georgia Dooly County my Grand father was a famer who knew how to read and paid head tax, one daughter was a teacher, I found one son who attended Knox college.
My older realtives don't want to talk about the south, but I like to know how life really was.
Please assist me in finding records.
I cannot find slave owners, or wills
Marriages
Death.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Sherdina, LaShea, Pamela, Pam and Rasheedah,

Thank you for your questions. It is so important for people to trace their family trees. In an effort to point you in the right direction, I would ask that you read the last chapter of my most recent book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own." In it, I offer a thorough outline detailing how to go about it yourself. Rather than listing it here, I would ask you to look at this essay in my book.

Additionally, I have started a company that helps people trace their family trees. Our services are provided at a modest fee. What’s really exciting is that the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in the African American Lives series will create your family tree. Just visit AfricanDNA.com and look for the family tree options that our company provides.

Lastly, on TheRoot.com – a web magazine that I recently launched with The Washington Post – you will find ancestry tools that will allow you to create your own family tree and share it with family and friends. Thank you.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Patricia Gilbert writes...

How can I get my DNA. and family history done. I ready would like to trace my family history.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Patricia,

Thank you for your note. I commend you for seeking to trace your family history. I would suggest that you review the last chapter of my most recent book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own." In it, you will find an outline explaining how to get this process started. It is very detailed, so I would ask you to look at this essay in my book.

Many people have asked me how to trace their family trees. So, I started a company that provides this service at a fairly modest fee. In fact, you will have access to the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in the African American Lives series. Please visit AfricanDNA.com, and you will be able to examine the family tree options that our company offers.

Also, TheRoot.com – a web magazine that I started with The Washington Post – has ancestry tools that will allow you to create your own family tree. You will be able to share it with family and friends, too.

In addition, I believe that everyone should have their DNA tested to see what it reveals about their more distant ancestral origins. A number of companies provide these services. You can link directly to them by going to the "Roots" channel on TheRoot.com. On my African American Lives series, we gave each of our guests two DNA tests: an admixture test, which determines their percentage of European, Asian, Native American, and African ancestry and a mitrochondrial DNA test, which examines your ancestors on your mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, etc. line.

We also tested our male guests’ Y DNA to reveal the genetic ancestry of their father’s, father’s, father’s, etc. line. But again, this is all explained in the last chapter of "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own." Take care, Patricia.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Lesley writes...

Would it be hard to trace you hertage if you were a foster child.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Lesley,

I appreciate your taking the time to write to me. As a foster child or an adopted child, your DNA will be that of your biological parents. I would suggest that you ask your question directly to Mr. Bennett Greenspan, the CEO of FamilyTreeDNA.com, and my partner in the creation of AfricanDNA.com. His e-mail address is bcg@familytreedna.com.

Also, in African American Lives 2, we included Linda Johnson Rice as one of our guests. As viewers learned from the program, Linda was adopted. The family tree that our genealogists constructed was for her adoptive family, while her DNA results were for her biological ancestors. The same would apply to any foster or adopted child.

I hope that this helps you. Good luck with your search.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

LaShea Burnett writes...

Where do you start to look for your family history?

Rose writes...

I've seen your shows and enjoyed them. Do you only help celebrities or do you help anybody?

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Rose,

Thank you for watching my African American Lives series.

Many people from all walks of life have asked me how to go about tracing their family’s roots. So, I have started a company that provides this service at a modest fee. By the way, the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in African American Lives will be available to create your family tree. Please visit AfricanDNA.com and look for our company’s family tree options.

Also, I would encourage you to visit TheRoot.com; a web magazine that I recently launched with The Washington Post. There you will find ancestry tools that will allow you to create your own family tree and share it with family and friends.

Lastly, you might like to know that we are planning two sequels to our African American Lives series. One will be about Americans in general (Asians, Latinos, Europeans, people from the Caribbean, etc.). The other program will be African American Lives 3. Filming has not been scheduled yet. But when it is, we will be advertising to the general public and inviting applications for a person to be included as one of our guests. Best of luck.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Isaac writes...

Watching the show inspired me and I would love to learn more on my family history. Like Chris Rock my family originated in Charleston SC the only stories that I have heard is that one of my ancestors owned several acers of land on Hilton Head Island and the land was stolen because he could not read so in order to pay for things he was read a false document and placed an x as his signature. If you could assist me or point me in the right direction for finding my forgotten heritage I would be very much apprechiated.

Christler writes...

I started research on my mother's side at a place in Madison, FL while waiting for my husband to finish with dialysis I didn't have paperwork with me, but off of the top of my head (slang), I remembered some things. The person who helped me found some information, but I want to find more. Please give me web sites that I can search free or for a fee. I'm really excited about this. I already have some documents like my grandmother/father's marriage license on my father's side. I really enjoyed you program tonight and will be purchasing your book. Thank you very much.

caroline writes...

i saw your pt2. iam interested because both sides of my family are secretive. iam german/english and black. i would like 2 know both. thank u

Alphonzo writes...

Hello, my name is Alphonzo Bethune Jr. I am twenty nine years old and and from a teenager until now I often wonder am I related to Mary Mc Cleod Bethune (born Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875). Pbs Parents can you help me?

Hi Alphonzo. Here are some ideas on how you can start researching a possible connection between yourself and Mary McLeod Bethune.

Take a look at A Beginner's Guide to Tracing Your Roots on TheRoot.com. This site, which Dr. Gates started with The Washington Post, has some useful tools that will help in your search.

In the last chapter of Dr. Gates's book, "Finding Oprah's Roots, Finding Your Own," you'll find detailed advice on how to go about tracing your roots.

Also, if you're interested in DNA testing, there are several reputable companies in this field. You can find links to their sites by going to the "Roots" channel on TheRoot.com. Good luck!

Bertha writes...

I have seen your first African American Lives, and ordered it. Now i have seen
African American Lives #2 loved it as well.I am a 56 year-old black woman who
has worked on my family tree about three years, on the computer.Can you help me, i
have come to a wall.Like to know if i may send a copy?

Prentise writes...

I didn't hear any information about why the town was named "Wylie," which is an Anglican name, probably Scottish, and is my married name. I would love to know more about that. Mixed color people are referred to as black, even if they are barely tan, and I assume that even in that group, there were people of mixed colors and intermarriages/births. Is that how the name "Wylie" came about for the town? What information is there about the Wylie people in the context of this report?

Pamela writes...

I am very interested in tracing my family roots. My grandmothers on both sides of my family either have little information about their family history or prefer not to talk about it. Every once in a while, I ask them questions and jot down their answers in a book. I have names of their mothers, fathers and grandparents, but I do not have too many dates of birth or even pictures. How do I start? Where do I began? I have been looking for a genealogist in the NYC area to help me out. All I know is my family starts in Quitman GA & Arkansas..

Ann writes...

I fell in love with history at a young age. This triggered a yearning to know my lineage after hearing my mother talk about being related to Robert E. Lee and another from my paternal grandmother about her father rowing escaped slaves across the Detroit River to Canada. There isn't a link to Lee, and I'm still working on the abolutionist story.

I introduced both my kids to genealogy through boy & girl scout badges and through their social studies classes. One of them asked, "Why do I need to know about the Pilgrims?" I was able to show them that we are descended from the Pilgrims so learning about them is learning about our family. It made it real to them and they wanted to know whon else we are related.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Ann and Carly,

Thank you for writing to me. I am happy to hear about your passion for your family history. I also commend you for taking the time to share your research with your children. This will benefit them immensely now and in the years to come.

Best wishes,

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Carly writes...

As family historian, I am amazed by the interest and information I continue to find about both sides of my family.
I was fortunate to spend time with a great-aunt whose parents were born enslaved in Virgina and a Mother who spent time with them as a child. We must share this information with our youth to center them. We cannot and should not depend on anyone except us to do that.

pam writes...

I am a 58 year old african woman. I would like to research my family history. I have tried but was unsuccessfully. Both my parents are descended. My father was not a part of my life and have many unanswered questions regarding his family.

Cecilia writes...

I really enjoyed watching this last night and being enlightened a little more about our culture. I know some about my mother's side of the family and I have some information that I would like to piece together and find out more. Their origins start in Henderson, North Carolina-- and also documents of them getting their 40. Any assistance would humbly be appreciated.

Peter writes...

I also wonder how many of us "white" Americans have some African ancestry. I have heard so many stories about people with African ancestry simply disappearing into the general population if they could. After a generation or two, everyone would have forgotten that heritage. My guess is that, biologically speaking, the racial divide in America is largely based on mythology.

Rasheedah Sharif writes...

My family and I have wanted to uncover our roots but we don't know where to start. The elders of our family have past away all but my grandmother. And she does not have a clear understanding of her past also because of age. Would you be able to point us in the right direction??? We know there is some Native American blood in us and there is a mystery surround my great great grandmother. Rumor has it that she was Irish and was not allowed to raise her bi-racial daughter. But we have no idea how to find any of this out.

Linda A'Vant-Deishinni writes...

Dear Prof. Gates:

I just wanted to thank you for your PBS specials last year and most recently last night. As an African American fanscinated with history I have struggled to find my own family roots. Hopefully, more programs like yours will help me and others find their way. I hope to begin this process to pass on to my children and generations to follow.

If there are courses you teach or recommendations to follow please let me know.

Sincerely,

Linda A'Vant-Deishinni

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Caroline, Linda (A'Vant-Deishinni), Jacqueline, Annetta and Paulette,

I am honored that you liked my African American Lives series. It is so fulfilling to know that this program is encouraging viewers to start tracing (or to continue tracing) their roots.

As you move forward, I would suggest that you visit TheRoot.com; a web site that I started with The Washington Post. This site has helpful ancestry tools that allow you to create your family tree. And, you will be able to share it with family and friends. Also, in my recent book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own," I provide a comprehensive outline detailing how to trace your roots. I believe that you will find this information to be quite helpful.

If you prefer to engage the services of a genealogist, check out AfricanDNA.com, which offers family tree packages at a reasonable cost. (I started this company with FamilyTreeDNA.com, because so many people asked me to help them to trace their family trees.) And, to answer your question, Paulette, using AfricanDNA.com will give you access to the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests on African American Lives.

Lastly, I believe that everyone should have their DNA tested to see what it reveals about their more distant ancestral origins. Visit the “Roots” channel on TheRoot.com for a listing of companies that provide this service. On African American Lives, we gave each of our guests two DNA tests: an admixture test, which determines their percentage of European, Asian, Native American and African ancestry, and a mitrochondrial DNA test, which examines your ancestors on your mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, etc. line. We tested our male guests’ Y DNA to reveal the genetic ancestry of their father’s, father’s, father’s, etc. line. But again, this is all explained in the last chapter of "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own."

Good luck with your search.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Patricia writes...

I knew my great grandmother Mary Mitchell that was born May ? 1800's. She past away in 1963 at 102. She was married to David Mitchell I was nine years old at the time. She had 14 children and there's a lot of us. lived in Marks, Miss. I want to know what do I have to do get get started with my family history. Our family reunion is in July. I would very much like to put something together.

I vwas very impressed with the program last night.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Patricia, Angela, Winston and Troy,

It is so rewarding to know how much you enjoyed African American Lives 2. I also appreciate your taking the time to share your stories with me.

I believe that everyone should try to research their family tree. In the last chapter of my most recent book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own," you will find a very specific outline explaining how to do this on your own. Rather than list everything here, I would encourage you to look at this essay in my book.

You should also know that I have started a company that helps folks (like yourselves) trace their family trees. So many people have asked me about this over the years. I do hope that providing this service at a modest fee will help them. By the way, our company uses the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in the African American Lives series. Just go to AfricanDNA.com for a listing of our family tree options.

In addition, on TheRoot.com – a web magazine that I started with The Washington Post – you will find ancestry tools that allow you to create your own family tree. And, you will be able to share it with family and friends. Thanks again for writing to me.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Angela writes...

I have watched your shows on Black History and it is very exciting to find out our ancestors. I really would like to found out more about my ancestors.

Lilyann Brown writes...

Dr. Gates,

I enjoyed your first "Africian American Lives" special so much, I bought 2 copies. I also grew up in Cumberland, MD and went to school with your cousin Gary Stephens. We went to Carver School on Frederick Street together. I babysat Johnny Gates when he was 5.

Because of your first special, I have begun to research my family history and will be encouraging my grandchildren to embrace it also.

Thank you so much for educating African- Americans to love their heritage.

Lilyann Brown

winston writes...

Thank You,
I really enjoyed the t.v, program! plus I'm very interest in tracing my family history?? I know a lot of information, about my grandparents, uncles, aunts, & etc; which is or was born in Selma, al. Dallas, Co. & also Coatopa, al. Sumpter, Co. al. How do I get into these data basic? to learn more?
Thank you, in advance, I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, winston.

Sharon writes...

Professor Gates, I was inspired as I watched last night's installment of African American Lives 2. I plan to use video clips from the PBS site for use in my history classroom, in the hopes I can encourage my students to learn more about their own families. Thank you for this remarkable series.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Sharon,

Thank you for your kind words. I also want you to know how much I appreciate your working so diligently to educate our children about the importance of their own family history. Keep up the good work.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

TroyL. writes...

After looking at both installments of African American Lives, I'm even more interested in finding out about myself. My family is full of out-of-wedlock babies. My father was married to someone else when I was conceived. I was given my mother's surname but she married someone else who didn't adopt me. I was well into my 30's when I finally found out my biological father's name because my mother was and still is ashame. My maternal grandmother had 4 children out-of-wedlock and the 1st, 3rd, and 4th children surnames are the same and the 2nd child has a different surname. It's a shame, but I felt a great accomplishment when I married years before having a child with my husband. I still think this accomplishment is greater than earning my college degree. Where do I begin to find out where my maternal side of the family originated? I know my maternal great grandmother's name. I don't know how many children she had for sure and unsure if she legally married. My maternal grandmother never married but had 4 children. Help! I know, my family is really messed up.

John A. Shabazz writes...

In the last year I have been researching my family history via Ancestry.com. So far I have traced back as far as the 1870's as far as my family is concerned. I wanted to know how could we as Africans Americans develop an organization that can become a standard in helping our people who was purposely and methodically cut off at our root to find and reclaim our heritage/lineage?

Denise writes...

God Bless you Mr. Gates Jr. I saw Pts.1 & 2 of The African American History and I was just in awe at how you were able to find such fasinating findings on several people that you researched. I am so inspired to try to look deep into my families history especially now that I am a first time grandmother and only have one surviving aunt living from my mother's side of the family. Your program has truly blessed me in more ways than you know. I just pray that I can get as far as you did with those families you researched. God Bless you and continue bringing our heritage to life.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Denise,

I am honored to know that you have been inspired by my African American Lives series. I wish you the best of luck in your search and hope that you will share your findings with your entire family. Thank you.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

LaShea Burnett writes...

Where do you start looking for your family history? I was looking at your show and it inspire me to find out my family history. But, I dont know where to start. My mother was born back in the slaves days but she don't know any information about our family and I really want to know about our family history and where to start looking.

Dana writes...

I saw your special for the first time last night and I really enjoyed it.


Can you please help me find more information about my family’s history; I have been trying to research my family history for several years, with little success. My father has little information about his parent’s family ever those his mother is the oldest living relative at 91 years old, and his father’s family uses several different spells of their last name so this is making the research more difficult. I know my fraternal grandmother was born in Seminole County Oklahoma in 1917 and my fraternal grandfather was born in Foreman Arkansas in 1907. My mother has very little information about her mother; she passed away when my mother was an infant. My maternal grandmother was born in Boley Oklahoma in 1914(???) and my maternal grandfather was born in Travis County Texas in 1904.

Hi everybody. Just want to let you know that you'll see some posts from Dr. Gates shortly. As you might imagine, he's been swamped after the premiere of African American Lives, Part 2.

In the meantime, for those of you who're interested in tips on how to start building a family tree, you may want to check out A Beginner's Guide to Tracing Your Roots. There are a lot of great ideas as well as recommended books on the topic.

If you've already decided to move forward with DNA testing or getting someone to research your family tree, there are several companies that can help you. One of them is AfricanDNA.com, which Dr. Gates is affiliated with. There's also Rootsforreal.com, oxfordancestors.com and ancestry.com.

Thanks.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Dana, Jerome, Phyllis and Vicki,

Thank you for sharing your stories with me. I am grateful that African American Lives has brought you such joy and encouragement in researching your ancestry.

Learning about our roots - - where we came from - - allows us to learn about ourselves. It is so important for everyone to make an attempt to do this. In the last chapter of my book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own," I offer a very detailed summary explaining how to go about it yourself. It is too comprehensive to repeat here. So, I would ask you to look at this essay in my book.

Because so many people have asked me how to trace their roots, I have started a company that provides this service at a reasonable fee. As a matter of fact, the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in African American Lives will create your family tree. You can learn more by visiting AfricanDNA.com. Our family tree options are listed there.

I would also suggest that you go to TheRoot.com; a web magazine that I recently started with The Washington Post. You will find ancestry tools that allow you to create your own family tree and share it with family and friends.

By the way, Jerome, you asked about the possibility of an “average American” participating in the African America Lives series. We are planning African American Lives 3. Once filming is scheduled, we will be advertising to the general public and inviting applications for a person to be included as one of our guests.

Thanks again, everyone.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

lerae writes...

Being a young African-American woman I was amazed by your program..To be able to watch as MY PEOPLE search their roots and found out how our/their ancestors struggled but remained courageous and strong. I want to thank you for expanding my mind--as my two daughters and I retrace where we came from.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Lerae,

I am thrilled to hear that African American Lives 2 has positively impacted you. I applaud your decision to trace your roots. You will certainly cherish your findings - - as will your daughters. Good luck.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

singee writes...

i know very little about my mother's family,she was from lake charles la born may 8 1913 now deceased.family name was lowe,brothers name was henry and ozzie lowe,one known sister flossie.cousins wisdom and joy.aunt named jane. how do i go about finding out more about family. thank you

Jerome F. White writes...

I grew up in south central Los Angeles during the 70’s & 80’s. My father moved from Shreveport, Louisiana in the 1960’s looking for opportunity to raise his family. He and my mother are both from Frierson, Louisiana. Moving to Los Angeles had both good and bad advantages. We just happen to live in the same neighborhood as Stanley “Tookie” Williams, one of the founders of the crips. My mother and father raised 6 kids off a small salary. My mother was lucky enough to be a housewife. I have always had a desire to know my roots. This is one reason I decided to pursue my college education back in Louisiana. It was one of the greatest decisions I could have ever made.

Since I have seen African American Lives Part I, I have done some research on my family. Thanks for your insight Mr. Henry Louis Gates I have traced my father’s ancestry back to South Carolina as far back as 1813. I shared this information with my family and they were ecstatic. I have now come to complete stop with determining who owned my family. I would love to know this also. Could you assist me Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.? Also, is possible if an “average African American” like me can be part of African American Lives, Part 3?

Onye writes...

Dear Dr.Gates;
I watched your show with tears streaming down my face. I have tried for the past14
years to trace my family history. I did find a cousin about 13 years ago on my Grandfathers side (Nelson). He came to Ariona for the Superbowl 08. He is well into his 80's. He shared with me that he has never seen his mothers face. He was a baby when his mother passed away. His life of survival will make you cry. I also had a rough time growing up not knowing my family. We were cut off from the family when my mother moved to Arizona. I was a child also when my mother passed. I did know her and do remember her. ButI like my cousin do not have a picture of my mother and no one in the family seems to have pictures of our mothers.
My desire is to find a picture of our mothers. I do not want my cousin to die and not know what his mother looked like. What a shame that would be!

Something inside of me will not let me rest untill I find out who I am and where I came from.

I have only been told bits and pieces of information by my mothers only sister who is still alive.

It seems to be some great mystery this family of mine. I am very interested in DNA. How would it help me in finding my missing link?? My heart is heavy..I mourn for those I never knew..It feels as though their spirit's are calling me..

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Onye,

Your story is quite compelling. I can certainly understand how emotional you must be in regards to your family situation. You are not alone. The good news is that it is quite possible for you to find out more about your family, and where you came from, through DNA testing.

Having your DNA tested will reveal more about your distant ancestral origins. Several well-respected companies offer these services. You can link directly to them by going to the “Roots” channel on TheRoot.com; a web magazine that I started with The Washington Post. On my African American Lives series, we gave each of our guests two DNA tests: an admixture test, which determines their percentage of European, Asian, Native American and African ancestry, and a mitrochondrial DNA test, which examines your ancestors on your mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, etc. line.

In addition, we tested our male guests’ Y DNA to reveal the genetic ancestry of their father’s, father’s, father’s, etc. line. I discuss this in detail in the last chapter of my book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own." Also in that chapter, I provide a very comprehensive outline explaining how to go about tracing your family tree.

I recently started a company that helps people trace their roots for a fairly modest fee. What is really exciting is that the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in the African American Lives series will create your family tree. Just go to AfricanDNA.com and examine our family tree options.

There is one more thing. When visiting TheRoot.com, you will find ancestry tools that allow you to create your own family tree. Best of all, you can share it with family and friends.

I hope this helps you, Onye.

Henry L. Gates, Jr.

Sharon L. Green writes...

Dear Professor Henry Louis Gates,
I hope this comment reaches you in the best of health. My name is Sharon Green, I consider myself the appointed family historian. I am writing seeking any guidance, advice, or referals you can provide that may assist me in completeing our family trees. To date I have conducted interviews with elder family members from them I was able to find death certificates, ss indexes, obituaries, pictures, military records, and census. I started this project in 2000, to date I have compiled a scrap book of the above documents and photos from both maternal and paternal sides of my family with over 800 pages. However I have many unanswered questions and don't know exactly where to go from here. I seek your wisdom and guidence. I would like to thank you in advance for any consideration concerning my journey to our roots. I anxiously await your reply. God bless you for you work in African American History, genealogy,and community. Futher infromation furnished upon request.

Sincerely Yours
Sharon Green Denver CO.


Edited by Tracey (PBS Parents).

Phyllis writes...

I just love your series on Africian American Lives. I have been trying to trace my family roots for years; but have ran into that wall of th 1870s. It does not help that we (mothers side of the family) are from Fernandina Beach, Florida (Amelia Island). I don't know if we were slaves to the Native American Indians or Plantation owner(s). Maternal father was from Dungeness a plantation on Cumberland Island and somehow Darien/Savannah, Ga involved. My question is how do I find what resources are available and where these documents are located? Sincerely, Phyllis

charles giles writes...

Hi my name is Charles Giles. I am 40. I tried to talk to my father about our family history. He wouldn't talk about it. Would you be able to guide me on how to get my father to open up about our family's past? Thank you for your time.


Edited for clarification by Tracey (PBS Parents).

Sioux writes...

I also have been searching for ties to family. I have conflicting information. I am of Native American roots. The problem is that many tribes had to be nomatic and moved around. I have been told by the spelling of my G-G-G-Grandmothers name I could be Sisseton. But her documents show Santee. Her parents died when she was six and some say she was adopted by her cousin. Her cousin was a daughter to a chief and married to a very important fur trader. She is conected to the Eastman family. But I can not find her bother and sisters, what happened to them? Which bands. My facial features are Native but I have blur eyes and light hair. People always question me. Beacause of the uprooting and being sent to reservations, most of the family culture was lost or just not talked about. I have tried so hard to learn from books but need to know who I am to learn what MY bands culture was. How do I find more, besides the talking with family and doing the limited paper trail?
Thank you for your time.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Singee, Sioux, Kenya and Edward,

It is wonderful to hear that you are interested in learning about your ancestors. I highly encourage you to move forward with your search.

In the last chapter of my latest book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own," you will find detailed recommendations on how to begin the process of reconstructing your family tree. You can also visit TheRoot.com; a new web magazine that I started with The Washington Post. On the site, you will find ancestry tools that allow you to create your own family tree. You will also be able to share your tree with family and friends.

Lastly, I have created a company that helps folks find out about their roots for a rather modest fee. We even use the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in African American Lives. Please visit AfricanDNA.com to learn more. Good luck.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Vicki writes...

Hello,

My name is Vicki and I have watched both of your installments on pbs and I thought they were great. I have also been interested in tracing my roots for about 3 or 4 years but did not know where to start. My family rarely discussed my ancestors, but I have recently been able to get some basic information, but I don't know where to go from here. I really want to get this information so that my kids can know where they can from and the importance of keeping our legacy alive. Alot of my family have passed away and I want to be involved in bridging the gap from the past to the future. My question is where do I start. I would appreciate any information you can give me to help me get this going.

Thank you,
Vicki

Sheila writes...

Hello, my name is sheila jackson johnson. I will be celeabrating my birthday on the 13th of this month. Although I have always been interested in family- the older I get the more I want to find out about my family history. I have struggle all my life even as a child growing up. I live with pain everyday yet I keep on going- I try not to complain. I would like to find out about my family what I can for my children sake for this my be all that I can leave them before I leave this world. We are not a wealthy family and we have been treated poorly. However we are rich with love and no one can take that away. My grandmothers letters and personal Items were thrown in the trash and I could not say nothing for I am only a grandchild. I have a great grandmother Name Carrie Marshall Pittman. whom cooked for the Dalton boys, Some how this made our family proud but I know there is more.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Sheila, Mater, Jackie and Deborah (Glascoe),

I appreciate your sharing your stories with me. And, I am happy that you are all committed to researching your roots.

Moving forward, I would suggest that you visit TheRoot.com; an online publication that I started with The Washington Post. There you will find ancestry tools that allow you to create your own family tree and share it with family and friends.

Also, try to get a copy of my book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own." In the last chapter, I provide a detailed outline on how to go about tracing your ancestry. It is quite comprehensive.

Lastly, because so many people have asked me how to trace their family trees, I have started a company that provides this service at a modest fee. In fact, the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in the African American Lives series will create your family tree. Just go to AfricanDNA.com, and you will find a listing of our family tree options. Thank you.


Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Bashirah writes...

Oh Dr. Gates,

I am obsessed with knowledge about my family history and always have been. I am only 24 years old and have already discovered tremendously significant bits and pieces of invaluable information about my family history. So far I am sure of the African and Native American mixture (my great-grandfather was Native American), and recently I uncovered that my surname is Scottish.

I have already viewed the first series of African American Lives and even got my family and college buddies into watching the latest series. I am strong-willed at finding out who my ancestors are and essentially who I am in the process.

I thank you for dedicating such critical attention to the subject matter because it has helped so many families reconnect and reclaim their place in history.

Next stop, Dr. Kittles!

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Bashirah,

I, too, became fascinated about my ancestry at a very young age, as I mentioned in my blog post (at the top of this page). I commend you for uncovering so much valuable information.

Please keep up the good work and be sure to share it with everyone in your circle.
Also, thank you for watching African American Lives 2. Stay tuned for African American Lives 3. I do not know exactly when it will air, but you will be hearing about it when the time comes. Take care.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Clifford Pagan writes...

Dear Dr. Gates;

I had the privilege of watching two parts of your PBS documentary on African Americans. I was very moved by your documentary and couldn’t help but relate to what you shared in your documentary as well as your personal life in the article above. P.S. I did purchase the European Coat of Arms!!!

I guess what makes me unique is my perspective on this issue and personal life experience. You see I’m not ….per say African American. I am Puerto Rican American. However, in researching my family’s past and in learning about what a Puerto Rican is, it has been validated that Puerto Ricans are a mixture of three primary races (Spanish/European, Black Slaves brought in from Africa and Taino Indian). The Black contribution to the Latino Community and specifically my family (and my wife who is also Puerto Rican) is undeniable. I noticed you mentioned in your article, how you knew your family was mixed. I have often been mistaken for “high yellow”, quadroon or creo. My brothers and I, who come from the same mother and father, reflect the true spectrum of the rainbow. Another unique twist is that my family is not from Puerto Rico or New York. I was born and raised on the island of Maui in Hawaii and my family has been there for over 105 years. I presently live in California but still have close ties to my family in Hawaii and have even traveled and discovered family in Puerto Rico.

I consider myself to be a self taught genealogist and over the past twenty-one plus years have been able to compile a significant collection of documents, photos and have even established a data base (Family Tree Maker) to store the information collected to date.
Like you, I decided to share the information I have gathered and established a non-profit organization and have done cultural displays throughout California and Hawaii. I have been able to trace my family’s roots back to the 1700’s but all my ancestors to date are identified in various documents as Puerto Rican. I would love to be able to go back farther to the point where a male Spanish ancestor married a Black or Indian women. I would like to collaborate with you to explore the African/Latino genealogy story and learn how I can go about participating in DNA testing to verify my African lineage and what part of Africa my family is from.

Sincerely and With Much Aloha,

Clifford Pagán

Donna writes...

My kindgartner learned about Harriet Tubman in class. She came home and asked me if I had been whipped by the "WHIPPER MAN". I was horrified and troubled by this I had not yet discussed slavery to my 5 year old. How and what is the appropriate age to explore this side of history in this country?

Carole writes...

Hello, I just watched your show on dna and genealogy. I too am interested but scared off due to the cost.

MY QUESTION is: which kind of test or combination of tests should I have done on my father (82Yrs)to prove Native American heritage? It would be through his mother's line. Or would it be better to do mine instead? There are so many different tests to choose from and I am not sure which would be best.

I keep researching but everything is so complicated to understand. Please help. Thanks for your time and thank you even more for the wonderful show. I have been researching my family tree since I was 16 and am now 61. It is a passion of mine and I just HAVE to know if I am Native American or not before I die.
Carole

Tammy writes...

I found the show while flipping channels and couldnt stop watching. I am an adult adoptee and have no links to look at or claim. Because of when i was born my files have been permanetely sealed.I was extremely interested and happy for the people who had questions answered and some new surprises. I am glad you documented the progress made on these people's heritage.I will keep watching.


Thanks,
Tammy

Melissa writes...

I love what you are doing Mr. Gates and I truly appreciate the way you are helping African-American people. I would like to find out how everyday people such as myself can get on your show and find out my own heritage. Please e-mail me and let me know. God Bless you and keep striving.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Melissa and Shalonda,

I appreciate your kind words about African American Lives 2.

I am happy to tell you that there will be two sequels to the series. One will be about Americans in general (Asians, Latinos, Europeans, people from the Caribbean, etc.). The other program will be African American Lives 3. Filming has not been scheduled yet. But when it is, we will be advertising to the general public and inviting applications for a person to be included as one of our guests.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me. Good luck.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Shalonda writes...

Dr. Gates , I love your series and really wish there were more segments that aired all year long! I found them extremely intresting. So intresting in fact I am really intrested in tracing my roots, as a yong African American college student I think it is extremely important to find out were we came for so we can really appreciate it. Will you do more segments in which you trace more "nonfamous" people, hopefully young people?

dan writes...

My name is dan vernon and my wife and i were captivated by your show. She is black and i am white and we want to trace our family heritages not only for us but so that our kids can know our history and pass on from generation to generation. I am writing to ask about the DNA testing - is it expensive? And where do we go to have it studied, etc.

thank you very much

dan

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Dan and Roger,

Thank you for your questions.

As you may know, I believe that everyone should have their DNA tested to see what it uncovers about their more distant ancestors. There are several companies that provide this service. Just go to the “Roots” channel on TheRoot.com and link directly to them for details on their services.

Numerous people have asked me about DNA testing and how to trace their family trees. So, I started a company that provides this service at a modest fee. In fact, the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests in the African American Lives series will create your family tree. Just go to AfricanDNA.com, and you will be able to examine the family tree options that our company provides.

Thank you.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Kenya writes...

How do I start to learn the history of my family I'm unsure about my Dad but I have some history on my mother who is now deceased but her mother my grandmother is still alive, and I am now a grandma. It would mean a lot to tell my grand kids where we came from.

Linda writes...

I am really fascinated with your PBS special regarding DNA testing and tracing ancestry. After completing an assignment in Life-Span Development class for Psychology Masters, I found that my own family tree stops after my paternal grandparents and my maternal great grandparents. Over the years my family has relied on old family bibles to keep track of the generations. A maternal cousin has attempted to complete a family tree, going through census, land records, court documents in Kentucky. After having limited success in research, now my cousin wants to perform DNA testing. Knowing your African heritage is certainly fulfilling, however, I still feel that gaps in the family genealogy needs to be completed at the same time. Well, after the special, discussion between me and my cousin became a difference of which direction to proceed. On my paternal grandparent’s side, tracing ancestry comes to a road block. My paternal cousin has also traced wills, county records, and estate appraisals in Forest Home Alabama. We are trying to find that link to the slave era. I hope to get beyond the 1870’s on both sides of my family.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Ray, Bruce, Linda, Lillian and Rose Mary,

I am so happy and honored that you liked my latest series, African American Lives 2, and that you have taken the time to write to me.

I also commend each of you for the passion with which you have researched your roots. Please continue to dig deeper and to share your findings with family and friends.

Best wishes,

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Edward writes...

my mothers name was naomi alexander she was born june 22,1911.she was born in natchez,miss..my fathers name wasedward h.mcelroy ,born in cleaveland,ohio.october 4,1909.would you please get me started on finding my family heritage.both parents have been deceased for over 30years. thank you

Jacqueline writes...


I love this program and watch often,
also I'm studying my family tree
and a also have marriage licence
of my grantgrand parents. My mother
father parents. and some more papers.

I'm still looking for others,I was
told that we had a great uncle in
calvary archie williams. He was I
think was born in Bedford Va.
p.s. can you help me?
p.s. I learn so much from
this program.

Jacqueline

Marvalyn writes...

I was so impressed and amazed about your docummentary and African American genealogy, I think every African American should have the right to know were we originally came from been we were strip of our culture name and rights.

? Were would I start for information about my ancestry I from the West Indies. were slavery trade was allso a business. My Great great grandfather inherit a sugar plantation.

Chiri writes...

I've watched your show African American Lives 2. My sister teaches science and I being a former science teacher am amazed at how current technology is being used to trace family ancestry. Like so many others, we too, are interested in tracing our family history. Thank you so much for this program. Please send me more information as to how we can trace our genetic roots.

Anne writes...

An excellent program. Thank you for all the hard and fascinating work.

As a fifth-grade teacher I would encourage my students to talk with their elders during holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas to get their first person reactions to topics we'd studied in class, such as the attack at Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy/ King assassinations. This would lead to a sharing between generations, hopefully to get information from those who may no longer be around when the children grow to adulthood and won't then have the chance to question them.

Also, I would give them a project to find out a "primary source" from their family---some object which would tell them something new about their family's history. They would bring in wonderful objects including a picture and story of an unknown grand-aunt who died at an early age, a hand-carved wooden toy made by the immigrant Italian great-grandfather, naturalization papers of one child's great-grandfather, and a poncho which one child's grandmother used to wear in her native Guatemala. The children all learned something new about their family history and found great joy, pride, and respect for each other when sharing. A lead-in to a genealogy project was then a natural follow-up.

Although done as a class project, these are simple ideas that could be done in any family to develop an interest in genealogy. Children, especially at the age of 10 or so, are eager to learn who they are and from where they came. A love of history comes more easily and naturally with the understanding of one's family's place in that history.

Roger writes...

How can I find a reputable DNA company and I understand that their are DNA kits that can be purchased.thank you for your time. (Northern Calif.)

Kathy writes...

Family history and tracing my family history has been a part of my life since I was a little girl and I followed my mother around to various libraries and cemetaries looking for hidden ancestors. I now do the same with my kids. So not only do we learn history together but jaunting around cemetaries is great exercise! I hope they develop the love that I have for family history that my mother gave me and pass along the wonderful stories to their children.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Kathy, Anne and Sandy,

Thank you for taking the time to share your stories with me. I am always happy to hear about other people who are fascinated by genealogy.

In addition, it is truly wonderful that you are sharing your love of family history with children. I applaud you for employing some unique tactics to get their attention. As you know, the lessons that you are teaching them now will stick with them forever.

Please keep up the good work.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Paulette writes...

I would like to ask Dr. Gates about the resources that he used on the special 'African American Lives'. I am interested in tracing my family but he seems to have so many other resources to use. Are these available for regular people like me to use and how can I find them? Several years ago I found out that I have a blood disorder that is not common in Blacks and when I asked about why it was never found before I was told that they don't test Blacks for disorders that are not black associated. I was told by the doctor that this is a disorder and not a disease and it is not harmful to me or anyone else it is like being born with one finger shorter than the other and that it is common in your Southern European Countries. I would appreciate anyones help in my quest to find where I can find resources to search for my history. Thank You.

Mater writes...

I have little information on my
mother's background, however I do know
that her family's last name was Cook and
that she was from Mississippi or New Orleans Louisiana. Can you help me.

Please do not post my information on the internet, yet, please responsed.

Thank you
Sincerely Mater

Ray writes...

I really enjoyed the programs. they have given me several Ideas ofr pursuingour "Rainbow Family History". We have members born and adopted intoour history of European, Arican, Asian and Native American background. I have been interested family history since early childhood learning that my father's grandfather who ran a way from home in KY to help in the underground railroad at a very young age and later was involved in taking freedmen to KS.. My mother's grandfather Swiss immigrant who left home as a very young man tomake his way in the new world. This early knowledge fueled my desire to know more. Slowly and painfully I gradualy learned how to collect family history, preserve and pass it on..

Jackie Hynds writes...

I am trying to reseach my mother family and having a pretty hard time. My mother is an only child. Her grandparants died when her mother was in her teens. My problem is when I try to look on Ancestry.com for my grandmother, I am having a hard time trying to find her. Since my grandmother was sent to a boarding school in North Carolina when her parents died and her twin brother was institutionalized at a young age. I cannot find any information, do you have any suggestion.
Thank you
Jackie Hynds

Janice writes...

I loved your shows on African Americans and Genealogy. I am white and have always been color blind and I hate the way the African Americans got here and the way they have been treated but... I am so glad they are here. I love them so much, they are apart of my country and my life. What would we be without them?

Bruce writes...

I thouroghly enjoyed African American Lives 2 and I am antisipating the next installment. I have spent 6 years researching my genealogy and have had a great time in the process. I encourage everyone to take up this pastime.

Dawn writes...

first of all i want to say enjoy watching the programs about African American lives, and i also would love to find out more about my ancestors. when i was growing up i never really heard my parents say anything about my grandparents or their parents before them,some times i feel lost don't know where i belong that's why i would to find out more.

yours truly, Dawn

Eleta writes...

Dear Dr. Gates,

Congratulations on another job well done.
I have been working on my genealogy for the past few years. However, I have run into a few roadblocks that only a DNA test can answer. I would like to find out more about my father's lineage. Both sides of his family were racially more European than African.Unfortunately, my dad and my brother are deceased. I do have male cousins, but I have never met them. How do you ask someone whom you've never met for a DNA sample? By the way, I have to assume that you were able to gather Bliss Broyard's DNA through her brother. Am I right?

Another mystery- Who was my paternal grandmother's paternal grandfather? Was he the Irishman, Charlie Miller ( the gt-gdfather of my cousins)? Or was it the Spanish- Cuban named Walter Lopez, as my grandmother and dad always claimed?

Skip, I know that you are being inundated with requests. If there is an AA Part 3 in the works, I'm throwing my hat in the ring.

All the best.

Hi everyone. It's great that so many of you are interested in DNA testing and how to start tracing your roots. Here are some resources that can help. For information on how to begin researching your family tree, visit:

- A Beginner's Guide to Tracing your Roots
- a genealogy guide from The History Detectives

For DNA testing, costs and related information, check out:

- The National Geographic’s Genographic Project
- The History Detectives page on DNA Analysis.
- A discussion on DNA from African American Lives 2
- AfricanDNA.com (which Dr. Gates is involved with)
- AfricanAncestry.com
- oxfordancestors.com

And, here’s a list of recommended books on genealogy.

Good luck!

Sandy writes...

I'm sure there are many passionate family historians who will agree with me when I say that there are some who are naturally drawn to know more about their ancestors, and there are some who just don't get it. I'm not concerned; it is not necessary for me to convert them. I know there will be descendants years from now who will treasure the work I do. This is my passion, what I was meant to do. An Ojibwe woman reassured me of this once.

It was a Saturday afternoon in July or August, and I had been staying with sisters and cousins at a cabin on Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota - perhaps 90 minutes or two hours from home. It was a girls' weekend get-away, and we had spent Friday night sitting on the porch with our cocktails, gabbing until early morning. But on Saturday, I was ready to go to the museum. It was just a few miles down the road - so, of course we should go there. The museum to which I refer is Minnesota Historical Society's Mille Lacs Indian Museum. It is a museum of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and our ancestors were Ojibwe - specifically, Mille Lacs Mississippi Ojibwe. I was sure someone would take me up on my invitation to go. But no one did, and I went by myself.

I had a great time. My guide was a talkative Ojibwe woman. Talkativeness among Ojibwe people struck me as unusual, and I joked with her about it. She said it was something for which she was often admonished by her grandmother; she was warned she would give too much of herself away. When I learned she could speak Ojibwe, I asked if she would be willing to try to translate some names for me, and that led to a long, enjoyable conversation. She could visit with me because I was the only one there, and the longer we talked the more apparent it became that the museum could use the revenue of many more visitors - visitors like my sisters and cousins. When I left, I apologized that I couldn't convince my family members to come, and perhaps I added that I couldn't understand why they wouldn't want to come. She looked straight into my eyes and said, "They aren't supposed to be here. You are supposed to be here." I nodded and knew what she said was true.

So, with my own children, I hope that at least one of them will understand this passion, but if they are not made that way, I hope I am successful at teaching them the importance knowing who they are. And they cannot know who they are unless they know who their ancestors were. All of the child-rearing experts will tell you that children will model more of what you do than what you say, and my children see my constant fascination with our ancestors. I have hung beautifully-framed pedigree charts in our living room which look like (and in my opinion, are) works of art. I have hung photographs of grandparents and great grandparents in the hallway by their bedrooms. I show them photos of great and great great grandparents and ask them to identify them. I let them handle old treasures - 100-year-old post cards and baptism certificates. I have them walk through cemeteries with me searching the stones for particular names. It becomes a game - seeing who can find the names first. When they learn in school about a particular time or event and it makes enough of an impression that they tell me about it, I use it as an opportunity to tell them about an ancestor who lived during that time or experienced that event. This - for me - is most important. I want them to understand that history is not about other people; they are learning about THEIR history. They are learning from where they came and how they got here.

It must be rubbing off at least a little bit. When eating out, my four-year-old will stop every over-worked server to tell him or her little details about his day - what he did at preschool, what cars are the coolest, what he wants for Christmas. Recently, a server laughed at the amount of information this little boy needed to share and asked him how old he is. When he told her four, she said, "I knew it; I have a grandson who is four." To that, my boy responded, "But what about your ancestors?"

Sandy writes...

To Sioux who wrote on February 11 at 11:17:

I'm hoping I can help you with the confusion about your Sisseton and Santee ancestors. There is no conflict; the Sisseton are Santee. The Sisseton are a group of American Indians who lived - at one time - in what is now Minnesota. You may already know that the Sioux Nation comprises three large groups: The Nakota, the Lakota, and the Dakota. These groups are further distinguished, and the subgroups of the Dakota are the Mdewakanton, the Wahpekute, the Wahpeton, and the Sisseton. The Sisseton are often associated with the Lake Traverse area in Minnesota.

Unfortunately, many of our Dakota ancestors could not stay in Minnesota. In 1862, several bands of Dakota went to war against the U.S. This "Dakota Uprising" - or Dakota-U.S. War as I prefer to call it - eventually led to the expulsion of the Dakota from Minnesota. Many Dakota ended up on a reservation in Nebraska on the border of South Dakota. It is the Santee Reservation. You will see our ancestors listed on allotment documents and census rolls as Santee.

I, too, have Sisseton ancestry. While I do not believe I have any Eastmans in my own line. The Eastmans - I believe - are a well-documented family. You may be able to find some useful links at my site http://forefolk.homestead.com. I'd be happy to point you in the right direction. My e-mail address is noted at the bottom of my homepage.

Warm regards,

Sandy

Annetta writes...

My greatgrandfather purchased land in Mexia, Texas. My siblings and my 1st cousins and I pay taxes on this over 100 year old land. There is oil on this land, and we get wvry small checks on a monthly basis. I think that America won't bring oil in here because they don't want to pay Black folk. I wish tht you could help us. We get lawyers and they are just bought off. I have friends that have the same problem. What do you think? I have seen all of your show Mya Angelo and the other whom you have found their roots. My greatgrandfather was free when he was about 9 years. We really do need help in finding more infromation about the "Aaron Livingston Family" We have Family Reunion every two years now. We will be celegrating June 13-14-15,2008.
I hope tohear from you.
Annetta

Lillian J. McAlway writes...

Hi Dr. Gates: I appreciate so much your program on African American Lives. I have been trying to learn more about my family (ancestors) since I retired several years ago. Thank you for your help, encouragement and ideas on continuing the search. Respectfully,

L. J. McAlway

Micah writes...

Good afternoon Mr. Gates…
I am a 37 year old African American / Native American/ Irish male from Southern California. For several years I have been very curious to find my true roots from which I come from… After watching your show African American History, I have been plagued with the thought of finding my true history… I truly believe, you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you came from. My life in Los Angeles has been one of many struggles and tribulations since child hood. I some how came to realize that it would remain this way until I can find my true heritage… Unfortunately my funds are very limited and that has caused it to be really difficult to pursue my dream of belonging. I would ask of you at this time to consider assisting me with the endeavor of finding my true roots here in America.

Micah Foster

Edited by Tracey (PBS Parents).

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Marvalyn, Chiri, Dawn and Micah,

Thank you for watching African American Lives 2. I am thrilled that you enjoyed it so much.

I would recommend that you start the process of tracing your ancestors by reconstructing your family tree. The last chapter in my book, "Finding Oprah's Roots, Finding Your Own," offers helpful advice on how to go about this.

You can also visit TheRoot.com; an online publication that I started with The Washington Post. We have A Beginner's Guide to Tracing Your Roots and useful ancestry tools that allow you to create your own family tree and share it with family and friends. If you prefer to have a genealogist research your ancestry for you, please visit the “Roots” channel (also on TheRoot.com). There you will find direct links to companies providing this service.

Because so many people have asked me to help them trace their roots, I started AfricanDNA.com. We use the same genealogists who created the family trees of my guests on African American Lives. Please visit our site to review our family tree packages.

There is one more thing. We are planning two sequels to our African American Lives series. One will be about Americans in general (Asians, Latinos, Europeans, people from the Caribbean, etc.). The other program will be African American Lives 3. We have not yet determined when filming will begin. Once it has been scheduled, we will start advertising to the general public and inviting applications for a person to be included as one of our guests. Thank you.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Deborah Nance writes...

I have researched my family history, time and money permittting, for over 20 years. From interviews with older relatives and examining documents from libraries (Schomburg in NY and Carnegie (?) in Eufualua, Alabama, I have gone as far as 1860. I share this research with my family when I am able to attend annual family reunions. I will be using leads from your program to see if I can trace back to Africa as per my original intention. My sister recently entered the data I collected into Ancestry.com, and we had so much information, we became a resource. As a result, we met someone whose relatives knew my great grandmother and a relative who is a descendant of my great grandfather's brother's line. Now, my sister has caught the "research bug" and we are working along with our newly found relative! Once, I retire (hopefully this year), I will pursue my research with a renewed vigor!


Edited by Tracey (PBS Parents).

Maureen writes...

Dear Dr. Gates,

I have found your show to be both fascinating and touching; I have watched both parts at least two times each. I hope you plan to continue to do many more.

I am a Canadian of French, English,Cree and Saulteaux background who has recently become absorbed with discovering my family's geneology. My immediate quest is to locate the dates, names of boats and any other pertinent information surrounding my European ancesters' departure from their homeland. My other ongoing investigation involves attempting to trace my First Nations past.

If you are planning more shows, I'd like to request one where there is some American First Nation and European involvement. And- oh- if you see dear Oprah again, please give her my best!

Your northern neighbour,
Maureen Cross

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Maureen and Deborah (Nance),

I am honored that you liked my latest PBS series, African American Lives. I also commend you for researching your ancestry with passion. Please continue to do so.

By the way, we are planning two sequels to African American Lives. One will be about Americans in general (Asians, Latinos, Europeans, people from the Caribbean, etc.). The other program will be African American Lives 3. Filming has not been scheduled yet. But when it is, we will be advertising to the general public and inviting applications for a person to be included as one of our guests.

Best wishes,

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Rose Mary Fry writes...

Mr. Gates:

I watched your PBS programs last week; the ones in which you searched the backgrounds of Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman, etc. The quality of the shows was superb, and it was clear how important your work was to these individuals.

My grandparents were first generations Slovaks on both sides of the family. In 2003, my older sister and visited families on both sides in Slovakia. We had dinner in the house where my grandfather grew up. And we visited the cemetery to visit the graves of my great grandparents on my Mother's side.

These were the highlights of a 3-week trip. Keep up your good work.

Sincerely,


Rose Mary Fry

Brigitta writes...


Professor Gates,
I cannot tell you how grateful our family is for the African American Live series. My husband and I have watched and have enjoyed every minute of it. We are a Black homeschooling military family living in Pennsylvania. I plan on researching our family history with my oldest son. I think the experience will be good for him.
Watching the PBS series has encouraged me to find out who our relatives are on my mother's side. My great grandmother was mulatto and little is known about her family. Her mother's pregnancy was not at all accepted by her family. This program encouraged and renewed my interest in providing my sons information about their whole family. All of the parts of our family make them who they are wholly.
This series is a wonderful blessing to all of us that watched you followed your dream of searching out your family history. PBS is to be greatly commended in that they saw the importance to do this for all Americans.

Thank you for the great work!!!

Dr. Gates? writes...

Thank you so very much, Brigitta, for your comments. I am deeply appreciative of your support, and wish you well in your search for your mother's ancestors. I think it is fantastic that you are doing this with your son. Take a look at the last chapter of my book, "Finding Oprah's Roots, Finding Your Own." It contains some helpful hints about how to begin the process of reconstructing your family tree.

Druscilla Smith writes...

Professor Gates,thank you and PBS for the vewing of the African America Seris.I have grand children and Iwant them to know about their family tree some years ago my sister and daughter tried,with not much to go on we reach a wall. my question to you,should we start over with the dna testing.again thank you and keep up the good work.please e-mail me.

Dr. Gates? writes...

Dear Druscilla:

I think that you should start the process of tracing your ancestors by reconstructing your family tree. The last chapter in my book, "Finding Oprah's Roots, Finding Your Own," gives helpful advice on how to go about this. Alternatively, you can engage the services of a genealogist to do this for you. Check out AfricanDNA.com, which offers a genealogy package at a reasonable cost. (I started this company with FamilyTreeDNA.com because so many people asked me to help them to trace their family trees. You can also access useful tools to use when you are creating your family tree on The Root.com, a website I started with The Washington Post.) Ancestry.com is a superb place to begin your quest to find your ancestors. So, to summarize, try tracing your ancestors in this country, and then take the mitochondrial DNA test offered by a number of services, including AfricanDNA.com.

Thank you for writing to me.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Anita writes...

Dear Dr. Gates,

I must commend you for the superb programs, African American Lives 1 and 2.
The research that went into these projects was astounding as well as educational.

I have been researching the family history of my late father since his death in 1995. I never knew the name of his paternal grandmother and so many other facts about his family's history until then.

By most accounts, my father should not have survived his early childhood in Dayton, TN, having lived in a house with his mother, who was infected and soon died from tuberculosis. Dad later became a Tuskegee Airman.

My own research methodology has been both a matter of chance and also inspired by the ancestors. By writing to the black churches in Rhea Co., TN, I found a distant relative who owned a copy of a photo of my g-g-grandfather. By constantly seeks information on the internet, I have found that another g-g-grandfather left Tennessee and settled in Boley, Oklahoma in 1910. I have also found numerous Tennessee census sources in libraries in both Oregon and here in California.

Thank you so very much for these programs. They have inspired me and others to keep striving to learn more about our roots.

Sincerely,

Anita


Joyce Tinguee writes...

This show was wonderful to watch. I have always had a yearning to discovery my family history it is like a inner calling. I am so glad we have a piece like this that encourages the desire to discover. Please keep doing what you been doing.

Kevin writes...

Dr. Gates, I watched your show and felt my soul move. I have always had a place in my heart for history. My family say I have an old soul. I have traced my family on my fathers side to 1848 (Henry Lewis of
Grafton, VA and on my mothers side to 1872, John Harrod which by way says mulatto on his 1910 census. I am wondering how to do I go further? How do I get more information as it seems I am stuck. Thanks.

Julian Strayhorn writes...

I started about 8 yrs ago tracing my roots and I have that "brick wall" of slave records and it truly is like finding the 'Holy Grail" of genealogy research to find a slave owner who listed slaves by name. But watching your programs have given me new energy to keep going but the clock is ticking and the stories are dying with the ones still here.

Joi writes...

I was fortunate to have my roots traced over the summer at the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta. I and several other black folks got the chance to hear, for the first time, where we come from. At the announcement ceremony, my 11 year old daughter and I found out that we were from Senegal and apart of the Mabutu community. I want even more information now! She and I both feel an enormous sense of pride and empowerment as a result of finding out about our maternal lineage. We plan on taking a trip to Senegal in 2010.

Deborah Glascoe writes...

Mr.Gates I am a 46 year old Latino woman but for some I look like if I'm of asian descent Philipino they tell me. But I never knew my parents I was raised by my grandmother and aunt both on my mother side I've always wonder who am I really, and where do my people really come from. I must admit I do have a fascination with Egypt,Israel and China. Can you please help me by telling me or showing me what to do and where to go. Thank You

Jackie writes...

I was very intrigued with your PBS program, African American Life 2. Unfortunately I did not see the first one. I am a young 50 year old and a native to Los Angeles. I have always been interested in my father's stories of his childhood. My father was my nexus to my families past. And would like to share how this became a passion of mine. My father has three sets of children, totaling elven, give or take a couple. I'm from the middle set and very much a Daddy's girl. I had a love for my older brothers and sisters from the first set before I even met them, because my father told me about them. And I cherished my baby sister from his last union. In visiting my father's home town in Benton Louisiana, there is a family grave directly accross the street from my grandfather's property. I took pictures of all the headstones; I collected memory books from family reunions; I had notes from conversations with my father from the time I was 11 years old. I begain matching data from my notes, the headstones and information provided in the memory books, which included pictures! I bought a computer program "Family Tree" and begain entering data. In just two weekends I made over 3000 entries! In one of the family memory books, there is a dedication to my Great, Great Grandfather had donated the land the church had been built on, land which he had accquired when given his 40 acres and a mule! Four years ago I was attending a family reunion in Benton and was blessed with the opportunity to sit down and talk to an elderly cousin who has lived his entire life in Benton. He was able to confirm a lot of my data (some of which he hesistant about)and then he suggested that I visit with two of the eldest members of the family, who were both in their late nineties. One was from my father's father side and other was from my father's mother's side. One was very reluctant to talk and share information and the other was very excited about talking to me. Additional, the elder cousin had a fairly large box full of family obituraries he has collected over the years, containing a whealth of family history and information. This has been a quiet passion of mind. I have been surprised and disappointed in the findings and responses. I've learned and come to accept that the information gathered will probably always be questioned and/or challenged. It is an on going, life time project. Information obtain through census is not always accurate, the information on headstones are not always accurate even the information printed in obituraries is sometimes inacccurate. I discovered what some might consider to be family secrets or maybe it weren't talked about. For instance, my Great Grandfather was married and every time his wife would have a child for him, so did his wife's sister, who lived acrossed the road this resulted in double cousins. I wish all of you luck and peace of family in your quest to learn about your families roots.

Kimberly writes...

Dear Dr. Gates,

Is it okay to just go straight to the DNA testing and work one's way backwards so to speak? I have very little knowledge regarding information on both sides of my family. All of my grandparent's are deceased. My parent's don't seem to have alot of memories to assist me in this quest.

Thank you.

Rev Carmen Hernandez writes...

I love your show and it really make me think about my latin roots, You encourge me to really want to trace my family history. How can I get my DNA. and family history done? HOw or where in NYC I can seek resources to trace my family history

Phyllis writes...

Thank you for your response.

I would like to know how I can become a genealogists and be part of the staff.

Sherdina Long writes...

Wow thank you for your answer just the fact that you took time to respond to so many email give me the motivation to keep looking, it is so amazing when this happens I always find something, or someone.

Thank you Mr. Gates and thank your family for sharing, your work is so important.

Thank you again family

Ms Long

Zina writes...

Dear Dr. Gates,

I have watched African American Lives I and II and was enthralled with all the history that you and your team uncovered. I have been attempting to learn as much as I could about my own history and have discovered interesting stories that never seem to coincide. My maternal parents are both from South Florida.

My mom's mother and her parents are from Louisiana. My grandmother tells the story that her grandfather left his tribe and married her grandmother. After watching your show I realized so few blacks integrated with Indians.

My mom's father and his parents are from The Bahamas. The story is her great grandfather was from Ireland that married a Bahamian woman.

My father's parents are from the Carolina's and Georgia. The story is that his great great great grandfather was a fidler on a slave plantation in Virginia. I have no clue which one.

I realize that you are probably overwhelmed with so many request to discover and unfold family stories and I am no different. I would be interested in any assistance in uncovering the stories of my family.

Thank you for your desire to share your family history and ignited so many to discover their own lives.

Zina White

Patricia Washington writes...

Hello,
A cousin of mine, purchased the AA lives part 1 for me, because she stated that you had done what I was doing, or had already done. My question is, why are you not doing a story on a person who is not a celebrity I know the pull is in the stars, but now that you have us, let us in too, I have a wonderful, fascinating story of my fathers family, that I did on my own, with the help of my ancestors of course who left original photos, original letters, and manumission papers. So you see I am speaking of me, I am in the process of putting it into a book, I think you would be quite interested in their story as well as how I a total lay person in the area of genealogy research filled in many blanks. I know once you hear my story you will want to include it in your AA lives 3. Patricia

jacqueline r. writes...


Thank you for all that info, also Dr. Gates responded to me and others, I think that was so special. Becaues me and many others want to hear frome him
directly, he is so loyial to his work.

Thank You

Jackie R.

me writes...

I am a white native of western PA with a really diverse background. One of my ancestors is supposedly Mathew Campbell Rhea of the uprising in Scotland in the 1600's. My mother did a family tree of that part of the family dating back to the late 1700's. Other than that, we know nothing except what is rumored of our surname. I want to know more about ALL of my ancestry and the truth behind the Mathew Campbell ties. What was this extensive DNA test that Oprah had done, how long does it all take, and how much does it cost? How does one even begin to take the steps Oprah and others were so lucky to have taken in being able to pinpoint the exact locations on a map of their ancestors?

Hi Me. Dr. Gates is no longer taking questions, but the following should help you.

On the "African American Lives" series, each guest took two DNA tests: an admixture test, which determines their percentage of European, Asian, Native American and African ancestry, and a mitrochondrial DNA test, which examines your ancestors on your mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, etc. line. In addition, the male guests’ Y DNA was tested to reveal the genetic ancestry of their father’s, father’s, father’s, etc. line.

Dr. Gates talks about this in the last chapter of his book, "Finding Oprah’s Roots, Finding Your Own." There's also an outline in that chapter which explains how to trace your family tree.

Several companies offer DNA testing services. You can link to them by going to the “Roots” channel on TheRoot.com; a web site started by Dr. Gates and The Washington Post. The site also offers ancestry tools that allow you to create your own family tree.

Lastly, Dr. Gates has a company that helps people trace their roots. He uses the same genealogists who created the family trees of his guests on "African American Lives." Visit AfricanDNA.com for details, costs, etc. Thanks.


Marilyn Kenoly writes...

Dr. Gates,

It is with deep regret that I did not see Don Cheadle's ancestry traced. My daughter, Socorro Kenoly, is part of that lineage. She is the niece of Ron Kenoly, cousin to Don Cheadle and the family originated in Mississippi then migrated to Coffeyville, KS and then to California. I believe their roots are Native American and African but I would like my daughter to have this information.Is there somewhere I can get the DVD or see the program again?

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Kenoly

Hi Marilyn. You can find the "African American Lives 2" DVD at Shop PBS. You might also want to check out Don Cheadle’s page on the AA Lives 2 Web site. Thanks.

mary writes...

To Dr Gates or Tracey I to saw both segments of the African American Lives. I started doing research on my family and my husbands family back in 1985. I have continued to research AfricanAmerican history in south carolina I have been forunate to find two former slaves owners of my family one recorded by mouth and a civil war document and slave list of one owner the other in the will of the first slave owners grandson last will. Just recently after doing more research on the first owner I found out his great grandson was Judge Julis Waties-Waring who challange the court on brown verses the board of education in 1945 also Thurgood Marshall appeared before him in Charleston SC. Both owners went to the same church in Statesburg SC(Sumter SC) left his Job or was run out of Charleston because of his belief. His body was return from the north after his death to be buried in Charleston SC fate sometimes changes our outlook on people and things. Some family members fought in the civil war so some of this information is legally recorded. My husband great grandfather fought also in the civil war his father had bought their freedom so he volunteered as a freedman. I tell the stories at everyfamily reunion and to friends and family who will listen and want to learn of their history. I've had the DNA done. I am researching the waites family to find out when they purchase some family members before they moved to sumter from
Georgetown and charleston where the family owned the rice plantation wish me continued luck. God Bless You for your continued work for the generations to come
Family Historian
Maryb


Anna writes...

Dear Mr. Gates:

I've watched the series "African American Lives" on PBS and thought it was wonderful how you were able to trace family members hundreds of years ago. Sometimes I think maybe I should try to find my family roots but its impossible. My father was born in Palermo, Sicily in 1896-1972 (a white man) and my mother was born in New Jersey in 1928-1974 (African American). I am a 55- year old mulatto woman with a 29 year old son. All family members on my mother's side are deceased. Never knew anyone on my father's side of the family. Recently my son, although he's grow, has said to me "I wish I knew what a family reunion is like." I was speechless. The only thing I have of both my parent's are their social security numbers from the Social Security Death Index website. Thank you for listening.

Anna D.

Anthony writes...

I enjoy African-American Lives series greatly. I would love if my wife's family could be looked into. My wife's great grandfather Raymond Byrd was a married man of three daughters in Virginia. He was lynched in August 1925/26 after an affair with his white boss' daughter was discovered and the relationship was fabricated to being a rape. Byrd was jailed and and a lynch mob busted into the jail dragged his body 9 miles and was hang in a tree. No one ever was punish for the killings (a brief trial of one person who was let off) and the daughter that was born out of the affair has disappeared. We heard the daughter was looking for the black family but no one told her anything. Now after 80 years we would like to know what happened to this daughter and if she had children.

Janel writes...

I absolutely loved AAL 1 & 2!!!! Brilliant work! I have been so enthralled by this series! My family and I made a point to sit down together and watch them! It brings tears to my eyes to see our heritage (real heritage) on t.v.! EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT! YOU DESERVE AN AWARD!!! What a wonderful masterpiece and thank you for your hard work and dedication to these projects!!! Janel O., Baltimore, MD

Micki Gilmore writes...

I have worked on my genealogy for about 20 years. I have always been very interested in the family and all the wonderful stories. I first introduced my two boys to genealogy at family reunions. You know, get the grandparents to tell stories and get out the old photo albums. Everyone loves it.

A.D. Powell writes...


Anyone who LOOKS white IS white and NOT black. You'll notice that no one dares to call Latinos and Arabs "black," despite their obvious partial black ancestry. No one presumes to condemn white-identified folks with partial American Indian ancestry as "passers."

Delaine writes...

Dear Dr. Gates and Tracy,

I looking forward to The third installment of African American Lives. I watched the programs with my family. I call my friends and family members to watch the program, when it is on. I have started researching my family history. I have hit the 1860's wall and cannot get any further. I would like to know how can I become a part of the program.
Thank You.
Delaine

willie writes...

I love your program that was on Sunday.How can I fine my roots.I been trying to fine out for years. Help me if you can.

Taneka Dixon writes...

I too cannot wait for the third installment to African American Lives. I have been researching my family history and have made it to 1870 and that is as far as I am able to go. But I love watching and being able to receive helpful hints whenever I do. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with the public and may you continue to be blessed.

Prayingpg writes...

Mr. Gates:
Thanks for the informational shows you produced. My mother desired knowledge of her background and we discovered very little before she expired.I've tried to continue the search, but I've not been unsuccessful before 1880 census on her father's side and her mother has been a road block period. Recently I met someone online who is from my faternal grandmother side. Yes I also have that native american story from both sides of the family, but nothing has come of it. I pray someday you'll document some ordinary/poor persons ancestry. Are you aware grant money to record markers in some unkept cemeteries for history purposes? God bless you,Prayingpg

JASON writes...

HELLO MR. GATES

JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT YOUR SHOW, AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES AND AMERICAN LIVES IS REALLY GREAT. ITS ALWAYS AMAZING TO SEE THE INFO THAT YOU HAVE FOUND THAT OPENS ANOTHER WORLD INTO SOMEONE'S LIFE. I APPRECTAITE WHAT YOU DO SIR. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYONE CAPTURE HISTORY LIKE YOU DO. WHENEVER ITS ON I MAKE SURE TO TO WATCH IT OR RECORD IT WHEN IM NOT AT HOME. YOU MAKE US PROUD AND WE NEED YOU. I AM AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND JUST RECENTLY MARRIED. MY FATHER PASSED AWAY 9 YEARS AGO BUT NOW THAT ME AND MY WIFE ARE CONSIDERING HAVING A FAMILY SOON I HAVE REALLY THOUGHT OF TAKING THE TIME TO RESEARCH MY FAMILY HISTORY WHICH TAKES PLACE IN THE BAYOUS OF LOUISIANA. PLEASE CONTINUE DOING WHAT YOUR DOING SIR AND I HOPE YOUR RAISING US SOMEONE ELSE TO COME AFTER YOU CAUSE WE CANT LET IT STOP. BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!

scot writes...

"An estimable colored woman," the obituary said, also mentioning that she had been a mid-wife. "That woman was Pop's grandmother," my father said, quietly.stock fraud attorney

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A very interesting read and a great post all together..

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Well, this is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.

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darvocet lawsuits writes...

i love this! i really like the story..thank for the great time!

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CJ writes...

Dear Mr. Gates,
Most of my family is fair skinned blacks from Louisiana. My grandmother - who died in 2007 at 101 years old - told us about her mother being a black woman married to a French man and my grandfather's parents were supposed to be a black woman married to what I believe from the name was a white German man. This have me curious since we all know about slavery. Both grandparents never really said anything that I can remember about slavery. My grandmother -who was the youngest - had nine siblings and their colors range from fair skinned to dark skinned and my grandfather - who also was the youngest - had 3 siblings that was all fair skinned. Can you lead me in the direction that I need to go to do a more detail research of our family's history. All help will be deeply appreciated.
Thanks,
CJ

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