Finding African ancestors can be perceived as hard work. The slave trading that has happened in the earlier years when they stepped foot on American land could have cut off their traces from the tribe they originated. Before resigning that your legacy is lost, nowadays, there are ways to connect those little dots in history. Unlike in the older days when communication tools were not available to most people, the power of the Internet today can bond those pieces. In spite of those resources, tracing your African ancestors would still require you to break a little sweat while you do your investigation. It is hard but it is not at all impossible. Start your quest with the following:
- Interview your family members. Start with your immediate family members like your father and your mother. Get the names of your parents’ parents and grandparents and jot them down on paper. Don’t worry about connecting the people yet. You need to list down the names to begin your trace. If you have older relatives still living in the present day, pay them a visit and ask them for their parents’ and grandparents’ names. The older the relatives, the nearer you are in finding out your ancestry.
- Refer to old photos. Your grandparents may be keeping old photos of their relatives that you can refer to. Although photos don’t exactly contain names, it may give you reference to the place and year that photo was taken. For example, you find a photo dated in 1901. Photos in the older days have the year, the place and the name of the photo studio stamped on it.
- Dig in public records. Check your family’s birth certificates up to your oldest relatives’ birth certificate. If birth records got lost in time or if public records were destroyed by fire or war you can refer to other records like medical records and dental records instead. Check in local hospitals, specifically the ones that are oldest, for your relatives’ records. The information can take you further in your quest.
- Enlist the help of DNA testing. DNA testing is now available to trace your African ancestry. Set up an appointment for DNA testing with your forensic department but don’t expect to receive your results immediately. DNA results can take up to two weeks or more. DNA testing for ancestry works by dividing your percentage of DNA into ancestral groups – African, European and Asian. DNA testing won’t exactly pinpoint which African tribe you came from but it can give you which tribe ancestry your genetics shares lineage with.
- Search online. There are websites that offer African ancestry tracing online for a fee. The website landing.ancestry.com can provide you the resources for this quest. It tells you where to begin your search and lead you to the African research center where you can continue your trace. You can read some success stories that they publish online to serve as a motivation to keep you going. They even have slave narratives that recount personal accounts of African ancestors. Their records are often supported with scanned documents of public records so you can’t go wrong.
Remember that tracing your African ancestry can be a meticulous task but it will have good results if you take time and careful research for it. Always remember that finding your lineage can take so much time and can take years so be patient.