The challenges of researching slave genealogy

Dr. Deborah Abbott will speak at Porter Library on Jan. 20 about genealogical research methods for tracing African-American slave families.

Have you ever wondered about the unique challenges of doing genealogical research for African-American slave families? The typical vital records of birth, marriage and death which can be found for the colonial and antebellum free American population, is lacking for African-American slave families. Finding the records of the slaveholder is critical to successful research.  

Dr. Deborah Abbott, a nationally recognized speaker and a past president of the African-American Genealogical Society of Cleveland, will share her knowledge of how to research an African-American ancestor’s journey, from slavery to freedom, at the Jan. 20 meeting of the Cuyahoga West Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. 

Dr. Abbott says that “as difficult as this task might seem, it is not impossible.” Her lecture will focus on the clues and resources needed, including the U.S. Federal Census records and those of the potential slave owner. Several case studies will be used to illustrate the methods and strategies needed to connect former slaves to their slaveholders.

As an Ohio Genealogical Society trustee, Dr. Abbott will also be installing the new slate of Cuyahoga West Chapter officers for the 2016-2017 term. Social time, with refreshments, is from 6:30-7 p.m. in the Porter Room of Westlake Porter Public Library, 27333 Center Ridge Road. The program begins at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend, at no cost. For additional information, visit or email

Jayne Broestl

Publicity Chair for the Cuyahoga West Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society that meets at Westlake Porter Public Library.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 10:00 AM, 01.05.2016