The US Black Heritage Project could really use more volunteers!

+32 votes

The US Black Heritage Project works on profiles for those enslaved in the U.S. across all times in history, the descendants of those slaves, as well as Americans of African descent.

Some of our goals are to add, connect, and honor members of the African-American community as well as welcoming new WikiTree members and helping them to connect to their ancestors.

If you are a WikiTree member, have signed the Honor Code, and would like to join us, please:

**Answer below** with what activity(s) you would like to help us with and which team(s) you would like to be on: see our project teams page for more information.

Do you want to help, but you can't commit to regular activity? Follow the black_heritage tag and watch for posts from us asking for help on specific tasks/projects.

Want an easy task you can do now? Please add the African-American sticker {{African-American Sticker}} to all your profiles from this community. This will help us honor them, work on them, and watch our number of profiles grow. 

in Requests for Project Volunteers by Denise Jarrett G2G6 Mach 1 (17.2k points)
edited by Emma MacBeath
I would add to Denise's plea.  We have so much to do.  We can use all the volunteers  we can get.  

To all the new volunteers as well as those who just work on their own ancestral profiles, please start here to see how to proceed on any profile that falls in the parameters Denise described:
Hi, I would like to join the Heritage Exchange. I am new to wikitree, but I want to help.
I would like to join the Black Heritage Project, I live in the UK., and have 27 Y-DNA matches to my American branch of the family who came over in 1650, this includes a Y-DNA match to an African American that I need to start a profile for soon, I only recently started working on the African Americans associated with my very large American family, but making good progress
I would like to join because Emma MacBeath has helped me so much with my ancestry and I want to help others and vice versa.
Hi John,

I apologize for the long delay. I have sent you a private message with information on joining the project and participating in the US Black Heritage PATH training program.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

Thank you for your patience!

70 Answers

+18 votes
I'm new to wikitree. Is there a way to flag an enslaved person I find in a will, or in a list of marriages?
by Jane Peppler G2G6 Mach 1 (17.5k points)
You can add a category to the profile if you create the profile. You would use the [[Category:XXX County, Slaves]] as the category (using the appropriate county the person was enslaved in).
Jane, Also, here's the link to our Heritage Exchange Portal which may answer some of your questions about enslaved ancestors
+15 votes
Hi! I'm happy to help in any way needed. I don't have any ancestors, as far as I know, with African-American connections, but I'm just looking to help out with any project :)
by Nadia Stanichevsky Bordas G2G3 (3.1k points)
+15 votes
Hi! I'd like to join the Profile Improvement and Heritage Exchange teams as they dovetail perfectly with my own efforts and research goals. I've been adding the African-American Sticker to the new profiles I created after learning of this project. I can make another pass and tag the older profiles on my tree as well.
by Adé Akili G2G1 (2.0k points)
+15 votes
I would like to join this project - I can help out in the

US Black Heritage Slavery Teams

I've been working on a "tree cleanup" for over a year now, and have documented a number of slaveholders and enslaved in my tree that I'm happy to share here.


by Danita Zanrè G2G4 (4.4k points)
+13 votes
Hello. I am wikitree newbie. I am interested in assisting with Heritage Exchange and Profile Improvement. I'm flexible and would love to jump in and help in any way I can.
by Melissa Bouie G2G Crew (590 points)
+14 votes
Hi, I would definitely like to join this project. I have an enslaver as an ancestor but have not yet done the research on him in order to find the names of those he enslaved. I'm working on the tree of my son-in-law who is black and presumably has some enslaved ancestors, but I've not gotten back to 1870 with any of them yet. Finally, I'm involved in a large research project with my genealogy society of the black miners of Franklin, Washington, now a ghost town. Lots of opportunities to do the right thing and tag and connect people properly.
by Valorie Zimmerman G2G6 Mach 1 (10.4k points)
Franklin, Washington sounds like such an interesting project! Do you already have a category or categories for this or do you need one?
I'm still getting used to categories, and when I tried to search for more, was unable to find out how to search for them. I have not yet entered any of the Black miners we've found into Wikitree, but it is my plan to do so. We might have over 100 men to research and so far it's slow-going. Fascinating so far tho'! I just finished tonight entering Mary Jane Green and her granddaughter Sarah and Sarah's husband. I believe I got the category for Mary Jane Green correct: I can't directly link the profiles together because Mary Jane's children are so far unknown, but I have added links to each of them from the others' profiles. That will have to do until more is known
Hi Valorie!

Thank you for volunteering to help on this project. It's been a crazy week! I apologize for taking so long to reach out to you. I will be sending you more information in just a moment, via private message.
No worries, I was an all-day seminar today and prepping for it this past week. A whole day with Judy Russell tho! Worth the work.
+11 votes
I would like to join the Project and the Connectors Team.
by Tommy Buch G2G6 Pilot (507k points)
+14 votes
I would love to work on this project - is there guidance on learning these sources? My family is not historically from the US so I don't spend a lot of time doing research stateside, though I do live here and my partner is Jamaican American and we would hugely benefit from understanding how to navigate documents regarding African Americans in North American and the Caribbean.
by Adriana Hazelton G2G6 (6.6k points)
Hi Adriana, the US Black Heritage project focuses only on those who lived in the US, but the global Black Heritage project will be expanding in the near future to other areas of North America and the Caribbean. That said, the concepts are somewhat the same when it comes to free people versus enslaved. Those who were enslaved, have to be found in connection with the slave owner. Here is our Heritage Exchange Portal with links to some additional information:
+13 votes
I have joined this group and would like to help. I'm a parent & full time employed but manage to squeeze time in for WikiTree. I've been involved with categorizing my ancestors who are documented to have enslaved people as slave owners and sometimes come across the names of enslaved but am not sure what to do.
by Jonathan Crowley G2G6 (6.1k points)
Hi Jonathan, while you're waiting to hear from Denise, you can look at the Heritage Exchange Portal which gives you information on how to document enslaved ancestors:
+14 votes

Hi, I would like to join the project. 

I have done a little work in the project and am planning on this month's challenge.

I have spent the last day reading through the project information. 

The effort of the "Heritage Exchange Portal" is awesome.

I do have two suggestions. 

One - A Project "Road Map" diagram to show the links that should be visited to learn about the project would be helpful. It took me quite a while to find the "Documenting Enslaved People in WikiTree" page.

Two - I find the "is part of the Black Heritage Project" symbol on the profiles of Slave Holders to be confusing. It is not clear if the slave holder is black or white, or other. 

My suggestion would be to have a separate symbol for slave owners. It would be something like, "Name" was a slave owner. Slaves owned by "Name" are listed in this profile with sources. Each named slave is linked to his/her profile as part of the Black History Project.

I would suggest a different symbol as it sends the message that the person in the profile is black. 

Ideas for another symbol - - good question - How about double the current symbol but half the size. A white man and woman would be at the top and the current symbol below. This would clearly associate the symbol with the Project Symbol. 

by LG Price G2G6 Mach 3 (39.6k points)
Appreciate your thoughts, LG! "....'name' part of Black Heritage" isn't supposed to go on slave owner profiles, if you see any, send me a message, I'll fix it :) And if the wording is unclear on the portal, we'll fix it.  You're right about making a guide map clearer, still a work in progress!

Edit: except in the very rare cases where slave owner was black, forgot about that. Anyway, welcome to the project, you’ll get a welcome message soon!

Well, I have been looking at the Example Tree Pofiles that uses real WikiTree profiles.

For example, this one

Daniel is the slave owner. His profile has the Black Heritage logo.

Going through his slaves, Pig Lucy has three owners,

The second, Sarah Barnes Daniel,

She also has the Black Heritage logo. 

The slave SIP has a 3rd owner, Sarah Daniel Windham.

She also has the Black Heritage logo. 

I think all the examples are like this.

Ok, I see what you are saying.  The Project Managed profiles also have an emblem, these are generally only put on famous or notable people, but are also on our example profiles so the Project can keep track of them; there are only a handful. (code is "{US Black Heritage}" The code for the sticker for African-American/Black profiles is {{African-American Sticker}}

Thanks Elaine. 

But just to be clear, slave owner profiles would not have either sticker.

Enslaved profiles would have the African-American/Black profiles {{African-American Sticker}} They might also have the first sticker if they had be come famous.

Is the African-American/Black {{African-American Sticker}} only for enslaved ?

The African-American sticker goes on any African-American profile, not just enslaved ancestors.  Right, no stickers for slave owners (just that sticker-looking project box on those couple example profiles).  Slave owners do have categories (by county and state), but not stickers.
+10 votes

I think that I started the process before, as I have the badge, Thanks!, but didn't add my name to the Profile Improvement Team, which seems to fit my biobuilder skill set.

Four US Black Heritage Project (4) biobuilder reviews completed thus far since 1 Jan 2021:

by Porter Fann G2G6 Mach 5 (56.6k points)
+8 votes

I'm sure we need another project like I need more yarn, but it would be so cool to work on the Black Fives, the all-black basketball teams that existed in the US between 1904 and 1950. I learned about this group in my efforts to get Lena Horne connected to the tree. Her maternal uncles and apparently her father played for the Smart Set Athletic Club in Brooklyn.

by Kate Schmidt G2G6 Mach 2 (25.7k points)
+11 votes

So, without really planning to, I think I've been volunteering some valuable work to this project.

I was working on the profile for my Third Great Uncle, High Constable Samuel Parker Garrigues when I became obsessed by the work that he and Mayor Joseph Watson did recovering victims of the "Reverse Underground Railroad". I realized that I couldn't properly write his profile unless I understood their work.

The end result of what I've been obsessing over can be found on this page: Reverse Underground Railroad Victims

I, just today, got all the victim profiles into a "good enough state" and need to move on to the perpetrators and finally to Mayor Watson before doing a last cleanup of SP Garrigues.

I've made my best effort to follow your guidelines and I hope you will find my work valuable and hope you will accept the above mentioned page as a gift for your project.

by Chris Garrigues G2G3 (3.5k points)
Thank you for your contributions Chris!
+7 votes
I would like to be able to say I'll join the project. Unfortunately, I am way too over committed with what I have. My issue is that I'm committed to a thorough and includsive Name Study for the Beasley surname. I have had a couple of entries in the study with Black Heritage and I know there are many more. I am at sea with how to properly manage this important segment of the population. The surname study as a whole is beyond my reach to do properly, so I'm looking for advisors to specialized aspects of study. i'm not askiing for anyone to do specific work, but rather to have some familiarity with my work so that I can get guidance and/or input. I'm actually workiing on a communication system where I can engage people of all different levels of time and interest. Is there someone who would be willing to discuss this with me?
by Douglas Beezley G2G6 Mach 2 (28.9k points)
Hi Douglas, I would suggest checking out the various projects that are currently in progress and reach out to the respective project leaders regarding your communication system. Of course, you can always post your requests in the G2G as well. I hope that helps!
+11 votes
I would like to help
by Donna Fournier G2G5 (5.4k points)
Thank you, Donna! We can really use your help! I will be sending you details via private message in just a moment. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.
+11 votes
I would like to join.  I have been working on entering profiles for my Richards ancestors and their related families.

Gabriel Richards-11142 was my starting point.
by Anita Alexander G2G3 (3.3k points)
Thank you, Anita! You help is appreciated. I have sent you details via private message. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.
I found in the 1660 will of Jane Fenwick, an enslaved boy named William Payne. I made a profile for him

I do not know how to connect him to the project. I made a sticker for him.

Hey Donna,

This information on Documenting Enslaved People should help.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me.
Hello!  Thanks for reaching out to me.

First, I would add {{Slave LNAB}} right above  the ==Biography== title.  This indicates the last name of William may not be as listed, since his family surname may have been lost.  

Next, I would add {{African-American Sticker}} right below the ==Biography== title.  This connects him to the project.


Hi Anita,

Thanks for the stickers! I'll fix that. 

However, he is called William Payne in Jane Fenwick's 1660 Will: William Payne, a Negro boy Servent . Stipulations in her Will tied him to the name, maybe for his whole life. The Will is on his profile Payne-16328. 

Since he was a child, we may never know who his family was nor how he got the Payne surname.  Was there anything in the history of Jane Fenwick related to Payne's?

Also, why not give him an estimated 1650 birth year and leave blank the year of death? These changes might allow him to be found in a search at some point.  As it reads now, it gives the apearance of a very short life.

Just my thoughts

+8 votes
Hello, I would like to help the Black Heritage project by identifying names of slaves mentioned in wills or other records that I read as I uncover my southern roots.

I need to understand how to best do this. For example, in reading my 5th Great Grandfather's will I find him bequeathing Sylla and her two children Henry and Annaca to his family. Here are three people mentioned by given names, approximate ages and known locations buried in a handwritten document that I have read. How can I document this information so that potential descendants may find it and use in their search?

Thank you,

Kim Marcus
by Kim Marcus G2G3 (3.8k points)

Hi Kim! This page should answer your questions. If you need clarification on anything or want more help, just reply or message me! Thanks!

+8 votes

Hi! I'd like to join the Profile Improvement team.  I have done some research into a family descended from people who were enslaved in Tennessee.  I will be creating profiles for them this week based on the advice I found here.

by Nicole Adams G2G5 (5.1k points)
+6 votes
I have been primarily interested in figuring out where all of my DNA matches fit in the tree. I tested with 23andMe and find that it is fairly easy there because one can check five matches at a time using the advanced DNA tool. GED match is a bit harder because more clicks are required. I have run into some black cousins who match a particular segment of DNA with me and up to 30 or 40 other distant cousins. Writing to them all of course is frustrating since only about 5% ever  wright back. But using that data and triangulating, I have been able to find the tree branches where the white DNA entered the black lines. I wondered if there would be any way to form a group of us that are interested in this type of DNA triangulation back to a particular slave holder that fathered children with one of their slave?
by Mack Tyner G2G3 (3.2k points)
Hi Mack. There are many groups who do this kind of work. Usually, the groups are made up of people who believe they may be related to each other through a slave owner. You have to a good deal of leg work to send messages to people at the various family tree websites/DNA companies and see who might be interested in testing or comparing their DNA.

As far as this kind of work at WikiTree--This is something I would like to eventually incorporate into the US Black Heritage Project, but I feel like we have far too few profiles and WikiTree members to be successful yet. I think at least another year of growing the project is really important first.
+11 votes
I just added a Profile that might be a Black Heritage Notable profile.

See the first source. Allen Pardee Cooksey is one of the biographies in the book, listed as the first source. The book is online, there is a link in the photo file.
by LG Price G2G6 Mach 3 (39.6k points)
Oh my gosh, this book is an amazing source. Are you working your way through the book to add profiles?
I was also thinking of that when I looked at the digital copy of the book. These ministers were pioneers of black culture in America.

but, I knew nothing of the book. I decided a few months ago that it was high time I did some FindaGrave volunteering. I picked this African American cemetery to work in, because I have gone there lots of times for bird watching. It needed graves added, new gps, etc.

then I volunteered for this challenge, and thought that researching this cemetery might be fun. I picked the Cooksey’s as there were several Cooksey graves and they seemed to be prominent.

Rev. Allen Pradee Cooksey, was the first to research. What a find, he was even given a biography in this book.

I think I have hit on some very interesting people to research and add to the Black Heritage project.
I just found the rule that says anyone listed in a major Who's Who book like this does qualify as a notable, so we can add the notable sticker for Allen and add him to the project. I think we should also create a category for them since it looks like there are probably a couple of hundred people
Emma, I don't think I can add the notable sticker, I am not in the Project, but I am signed up for this month's USBH challenge.
Hi LG, you can add the notables sticker to any profile no matter which project you are in. That would be {{Notables Sticker}}. I can help get him added to the project.
For African-American  Notables you  can use {{Notables Sticker | African-American Notables}}
I added the African American Notables sticker.

Should I also add the {{Notables}} sticker?

It's the same sticker, adding African-American Notables at the end just puts him in the African American notables category. So he's good to go. Thanks!

Wow! What a treasure trove of a book!

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