Alex Haley
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Alexander Murray Palmer Haley (1921 - 1992)

Alexander Murray Palmer (Alex) Haley
Born in Ithaca, Tompkins, New York, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Seattle, King, Washington, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 11 Aug 2014
This page has been accessed 5,284 times.
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Alex Haley is a part of Black history.
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Notables Project
Alex Haley is Notable.

"In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past and bridge to our future. " ~ Alex Haley"

Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was born August 11, 1921, in Ithaca, New York to Simon Haley and Bertha George Palmer. His father was a professor of agriculture at Alabama A&M University. Alex was the oldest of three brothers and one sister.

At the age of 15, Alex enrolled at Alcorn State University then a year later at Elizabeth City State College. The next year he returned home to let his father know he had withdrawn from school. Simon felt his son needed more discipline and convinced Alex to join the military. At the age of 18, Alex joined the Coast Guard, a decision that would lead to a 20 year military career.

It was during his service in the Pacific during WWII that Alex taught himself the art of story writing. It's said that other sailors would pay him to write love letters to their girlfriends. Alex said that their greatest enemy wasn't the Japanese forces but instead boredom.

After retiring from the military, Alex began his writing career and eventually became a senior editor of Reader's Digest.

Alex conducted the first interview for Playboy magazine with Miles Davis in the September 1962 issue. He had many notable interviews including Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Johnny Carson, Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr. and American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell.

Haley's first book, published in 1965, was The Autobiography of Malcolm X. It described the path that Malcolm X followed from street criminal to national spokesman for the Nation of Islam. It was the culmination of 50 in-depth interviews that Alex had with Malcolm between 1963 and 1965.

In 1976, Alex published a novel based on his family's history called Roots: The Saga of an American Family.

"Roots" was eventually published in 37 languages and Alex won a special Pulitzer Prize for it in 1977. That same year, ABC adapted "Roots" into a miniseries that would become very popular.

Alex died February 10, 1992, in Seattle, Washington, from a heart attack.

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage- to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness. ” - Alex Haley


  • U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2011. Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration. link
  • "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 20 February 2016), Alexander P Haley, Ward 1, New Bern, Township 8, Craven, North Carolina, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 25-17, sheet 9A, family , NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 2894.

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Comments: 5

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Hi there profile managers!

We plan on featuring Alex alongside AJ Jacobs, the Example Profile of the Week, in the Connection Finder on January 6th. Between now and then is a good time to take a look at the sources and biography to see if there are updates and improvements that need made, especially those that will bring it up to WikiTree Style Guide standards. We know it's short notice, so don't fret too much. Just do what you can. A Team member will check on the profile Tuesday and make changes as necessary.

Thanks! Abby

posted by Abby (Brown) Glann
I am a white William Waller descendant. I've just added my Waller line to wikitree. I have an autosomal dna kit on Gedmatch. If there are any Haley relatives of George Lea descent with dna tests, please contact me and we can improve the tree.

Don Brearley

posted by Donald Brearley
Thank you for this great profile ! My first inspiration for doing genealogy when I was a kid (-:
posted by Maggie N.
Mother's Profile: Palmer-10033
posted by [Living Hoskins]
Father's profile: Haley-1949
posted by [Living Hoskins]

Rejected matches › Alexander Hall (bef.1920-bef.1990)