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Searching

Online genealogical research is largely about searching through record collections. Because of the different ways that records are collected and stored, as well as the different kinds of sources—such as books—that we make available, how you search in ProQuest African American Genealogy varies.

Searching Record Collections

A 'collection' is a set of a particular kind of records. Collections that you can search in ProQuest African American Heritage include:

You can search across all collections at once, or search them separately.

Search tips and rules

Whether you are searching across all collections, or searching a single collection, the following tips and rules apply.

Search All Collections

  1. Enter as much information about the person as you know.
  2. Click Search.

You can search across all available collections from two places in ProQuest African American Heritage:

Simply enter or specify as much information as you know and click Search. Things to know include:

All Collections — Search Results

Your search results include:

You can:

If your search returned no results:

Search Birth, Marriage, Death records

There are currently two record types available:

Things to know about searching Birth, Marriage, Death records:

Birth, Marriage, Death — Search Results

On the search form, you selected either Cohabitation or Marriage. After selecting one of those record types, and provided the search criteria you entered and selected was specific enough, a list of matching records displays. You can:

If your search did not include a State your search results are not a list of matching records. Depending on what you did not include in your search, you can:

If your search returned no results:

Search the U.S. Federal Census

First conducted in 1790, the U.S. Federal Census has occurred every ten years since then. The 1860 Federal Census was the first to recognize and count African Americans as individual citizens. For that reason, we provide searchable records here for census years 1860 and forward only. The records available here include only those for individuals whose race is recorded as Black or Mulatto. (All census years, starting with 1790, are available for browsing.)

  1. Enter or select as much information as you know.
  2. Click Search.

Things to know about searching the Federal Census:

Federal Census — Search Results

If your search included: Last Name, Census Year, State, and County, your search results are a list of matching records. You can:

If your search did not include one or more of: Last Name, Census Year, State, or County, your search results are not a list of matching records. Depending on what you did not include in your search, you can:

You can also:

If your search returned no results:

Search Freedman's Bank records

The Freedman’s Bank (Freedman's Savings and Trust Company) was created in 1865 by the United States government to serve and encourage the African American community in the aftermath of the Civil War and emancipation. The bank operated until its failure in 1874. Its records provide information about the individuals and communities it served. The first branch opened in Baltimore, MD. In 1874, Frederick Douglas took on the job of president of Freedman's Bank in an unsuccessful attempt to guide it through a time of crisis brought on both by poor management and national economic depression.

  1. Enter as much information as you know.
  2. Click Search.

Freedman's Bank — Search Results

You can:

If your search returned no results:

Search Military records

Military service is an important part of the African American experience. From the Revolutionary War through today's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, African Americans have distinguished themselves in the service of the United States—in all branches of the military. Military Records includes three collections:

To search Military records:

  1. Select Draft Registrations or Service from the Record Type drop list.
  2. Enter or select as much information as you know. (If you select Draft Registrations, use the Registration Year drop-down to focus on either WWI or WWII registrations.)
  3. Click Search.

Things to know about searching Military records:

WWII draft registrations cards are also two-sided.

The front of the card recorded the following information:

The back of the card recorded the following information:

   

Military Records — Search Results

When you conduct a search, and then click through a state, county, or 'not recorded' link () with a corresponding record number less than 1,000, your search results are a list of matching records. You can:

Searching military records will require you to drill down at least to the state or county level to display a listing of matching records. Things to know include:

You can also:

If your search returned no results:

Search Slaves and Free(d) Persons of Color registers

Slaves and Free(d) Persons of Color registers form an invaluable collection with its roots in the institution of slavery. Although free persons of color were just that, free...that didn't mean that states didn't want to keep track of who was living where. By registering, African Americans of the time had 'papers' that they were required to provide in order to prove they were indeed, free. Prior to 1865, numerous states required that slaves and free(d) persons of color register with the county or city clerk. These registers are often helpful in African American genealogical research before the 1870 census. The registers cover approximately the years 1780 to 1866. The collection currently includes:

To search Slaves and Free(d) People of Color registers:

  1. Select Registers from the Record Type drop list.
  2. Enter or select as much information as you know.
  3. Click Search.

Things to know about searching Slaves and Free(d) People of Color registers:

Slave and Free(d) Persons of Color registers — Search Results

When you conduct a search, and then click through a state, county, or 'not recorded' link (with a corresponding record number less than 1,000), your search results are a list of matching records. You can:

Searching Slave and Free(d) Persons of Color registers will require you to drill down at least to the state or county level to display a listing of matching records. Things to know include:

You can also:

If your search returned no results:

Searching Publications

ProQuest African American Heritage provides a library of reference and how-to books. The library will grow over time.

  1. Enter or select as much information as you know.
  2. Click Search.

Things to know about searching publications:

Publications — Search Results

Your search results are presented as a table of publication that contain hits on your search term(s).

You can:

If your search returned no results:

Searching Black Genesis

Black Genesis is a Special Online Edition of the book written by James M. Rose, Ph.D. and Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG. It is sub-titled "A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy." It is presented in ProQuest African American Heritage as a searchable (and browseable) Acrobat PDF. The book provides both background and guidance about African American genealogy. However, the largest portion of the book is given over to detailing what resources are available in each state (presented alphabetically), as well as Canada and the West Indies. The book is rich with links to Internet resources.

  1. Enter one or more words, or a phrase.
  2. Click Search.

Things to know about searching Black Genesis:

Black Genesis — Search Results

Your search results are presented as a table containing the number of hits (matches), and the corresponding section of the book they were found in.

If your search returned no results:

Your Search History

All of the searches that you conduct during your current session are recorded on the Search History page. A Search History link is available in the navigation bar at the top right of every page. If you do not interact—no searching, browsing, moving between pages, etc.—with ProQuest African American Heritage for a period of 30 minutes or longer, your session will automatically end and your search history is deleted.

Searches you've run appear listed under headers identifying where in the product you ran them from:

You can do three things on the Search History page: