The North Portland Library is holding a class on African-American Genealogy this Saturday, Aug. 29. The class will feature local author Stephen Hanks who wrote the book “Akee Tree” about his own search for his slave ancestors on the Eskridge Plantations.
Librarian Amy Honisett said many people come to the library for help researching their family history.
“There is a strong interest in genealogy among our patrons, we get a lot of questions about family history,” Honisett said. She said the library offers a number of resources to help one research roots. The library has a research edition of Ancestry.com, the Heritage Quest genealogy database and numerous historical newspapers.
In addition to the library resources, presenter Hanks will speak on the importance of the 1870 federal census for tracing African American genealogy. He will also show attendees how to find pre-Civil War estate records.
Hanks’ genealogy expertise breaks through the barriers many African Americans hit when they try to record their roots. Due to devastating effects of the transatlantic slave trade, African Americans were not recorded as people until the 1870s census. Through writing “Akee Tree,” Hanks found that he needed to trace the lineage of the families that held his ancestors as slaves to record his own roots.
The class is free and open to both beginners and those who have already started their family history. Attendees are encouraged to bring their family documentation; names, birthdates, death dates and birth places.
It is a working session that will begin Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. and will last until 1:00 p.m. which gives patrons time to make a significant start on their family history.
Honisett said learning about genealogy helps people make connections with family, place and community.
“I think it’s a great way to be connected to your community, it’s a great way to find out about your family history, make connections with your family and get a sense of your place in history,” she said.
For more information about the class, check out the event page for the North Portland Library
For more information about “Akee Tree,” check out the book description on American History Press