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US Black Heritage Project Newsletter

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Welcome to the
US Black Heritage Project Newsletter,
published here every quarter

DECEMBER 2023 Edition

See USBH Project Newsletter Archive 2023 and USBH Project Newsletter Archive 2024 for past newsletters

Extra, Extra! USBH Project is now the largest, online, public, free database of connected African American families. Thank you to all of WikiTree for helping make this happen.

Every enslaved ancestor connected to descendants ... a tree for every descendant

Let's keep building in 2024!



WikiTree's theme for 2024 will again be "Year of Community Connections." We'll be looking at ways to work within communities to build and connect members together.

  • Yep, we did it again! We reached our goal of 250,000 profiles over six weeks early! Now it's time to dig in and reach our goal of 400,000 profiles by the end of 2024. We can do it!
  • Did you see our mention in the Smithsonian Magazine?!
  • New Teams recently added: New Jersey. Contact Janet Demcoe for more information. Kentucky Team has started up again. Contact Karen Lee for more information.
  • In 2024, we are focusing on adding at least one category to every profile. Categories help us find and connect profiles and help us run reports. See 2024 Focus on Categorization for more information.
  • Team Roses will be partnering with USBH during the Connect-A-Thons. If you don't have a team, join us and add some profiles to help boost USBH numbers!
  • Bookmark our USBH Project Calendar to keep up with all upcoming events.
  • Check out the 2024 list of free webinars at Legacy Family Tree. There are quite a few in the 2024 lineup about African American research.
  • The Connecting Challenge will continue in 2024! Congratulations to our top 2023 contributors, Nanette Pezzutti, Patty LaPlante, Emma MacBeath, Kate Schmidt, and Carolyn Martin. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the 46,036 profiles made during the 2023 challenge.


  • To be in alignment with WikiTree rules regarding living notables, you should not be creating profiles for living USBH notables unless you have been certified by the USBH Notables Team to do so. If you'd like to work on these notables, reach out to a Team Leader to learn about certification. You need to be a member of USBH Project or Notables Project, have been on WikiTree for at least 3 months, and have a good understanding of WikiTree styles and standards to become certified.

Check out these amazing statistics from the early days of WikiTree to now. Let's keep increasing those numbers!

Total Number of Profiles Created Each Year
Data from 31 Dec 2023

Year 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
Profiles 94,250 77,320 60,180 11,262 6,004 7,080 3,234 1,779 2,592 1,902 472 972 712 308 113 15

New In 2024

  • Check out the new 1880 Census Project! The goal is to enumerate every Black American who was listed on the census. It's a huge goal, but we're good at tackling big things. Please be patient as we continue to add new spreadsheets for each state and for new counties in existing states.
  • The Tennessee Team is starting up. Look for more information soon.
  • We are tracking some new statistics to help us reach our goals including number of new profiles versus older profiles newly receiving the sticker and the percent of African American profiles of the total USA profiles on WikiTree. We are reaching toward 10% representation of USA profiles on WikiTree. We are currently at 1.92%. This percent continues to increase each month! See all our statistics on our US Black Heritage Project Stats page.
  • Look for big changes coming to our Path program that will allow new members to get started with project work faster.
  • More work will be happening with our new Communities Teams which includes churches, communities, funeral homes, schools, and organizations. The great work with cemeteries, One Place Studies, and One Name Studies will continue.

Help Needed

  • We need more team leaders for state teams, Heritage Exchange, Family Builders, Outreach, and Military and War. Message a Project Leader if you are interested.

Team Updates

See our Project Teams Page for a full list of the USBH teams.

Cemetery Team

Denise (Harden) Jarrett

Thanks to our awesome USBH Cemetery team, we have had great 2023 results to report. In December we added 22 new counties for a total of 761, and 132 cemeteries were added for a total of 2,287 and linked to 1,838 profiles for a total of 27,796.

4th quarter results includes 1 new state category added (UTAH), 56 new counties, 373 new cemeteries linked to 5,410 profiles

In 2023 we added 1 new state (UTAH), 274 new counties, 1,221 cemeteries, 18,741 profiles. Of the 2,287 total cemeteries we have added profiles for all possible memorials making 147 now considered 100% complete.

Of the 3,143 counties in the US, we have categorized African-American cemeteries in 761 counties (24.21%)!

In 2024, the expectation is that we continue our work documenting the interred and connecting them with their families.

Connectors Team

Katie Bryant

USBH makes connecting families a priority. Even though we are adding new profiles at a fast pace, our percentage of connected profiles continue to stay around 50%, which is absolutely amazing. You can help us with connection by adding profiles with family members attached or joining in any of our connection sprints and events such as the Unconnected Notables Birthday Challenge. The link to the current monthly challenge on G2G is provided on the Connectors page.

Family Builders

Team leader wanted!

The Family Builders will be picking up its pace in the coming months by helping more families add and grow their trees on WikiTree.

Heritage Exchange Team

Elaine Martzen, Gina Jarvi, Michelle Detwiler

  • Heritage Exchange Checklist Team - We have checked and categorized thousands of enslaved ancestors and slave owners. This process makes connecting enslaved ancestors to the tree easier. Special shout-out to Shirley (Thompson) Gilbert for her tireless work!
    • Don't forget to add the category [[Category: USBH Heritage Exchange]] to your newly-created or edited profiles for enslaved ancestors or their slave owners, so that our Checklist Team can review them for formatting and categories.
  • Slave Narratives - We are making great progress at completing the WPA slave narratives. Thank you to Nanette (Gahn) Pezzutti for working continuously state by state to complete these families!
Plantations Team

Michelle Detwiler

2023 has been the year of connections! The connections with the enslaved, the plantation owners, and their plantation locations helps families today to locate their ancestors. We have 336 plantations recorded, with 2/3 of those plantations with profiles of the enslaved completed. Wow, what a great job we have done together this year.

The 2024 Goals for the US Black Heritage Plantations Team are as follows:

  1. Continue to create profiles for the names listed on the USBH Plantation pages and their associated pages.
  2. Connect plantations with their owners, especially via the Freedmen's Bureau Labor Contracts.
  3. Transcribe the names of those persons who signed labor contracts to work on plantations between 1865-1870, and create profiles for them.
  4. Create profiles for those interred in the cemeteries with the word Plantation in the name of the cemetery.

If there is a state and or county that you are especially interested in helping to accomplish these goals please let us know! See our current list of Plantations here.

Notables Team

Kate Schmidt, Katie Bryant

We added over 1100 Notables, including many living Notables, and are close to 4000 total. Due to increasing number of African-American profiles on WT, we are having more success connecting some of these Notables, although still much work to be done. In 2023 we started the new "Platinum Profile" designation for those profiles that are in the best possible shape, and now have 80 so designated, with 100 more in the queue. We have also had good success this year nominating profiles for the weekly Connection Finder feature.

Profile Improvement Team

Christy Melick

In 2023, the Profile Improvement Team's main activities were the clean-up Weekend Sprints where we worked on profiles in many of our maintenance categories, added military stickers, added missing birthplaces and worked on Data Doctor suggestions. We also did an overhaul of our maintenance categories and created a new help page for them so that our project members can work together as efficiently as possible to make our profiles shine. In 2024, we'll be focusing on getting in the habit of adding location categories and maintenance categories to all profiles where they are appropriate - see the new US Black Heritage Project Categories page for more details.

State Teams

Alabama Team

Judy Bramlage

Most of our activity this year was in Baldwin and Mobile counties (at the southwestern coast) as well as Chambers County in the east. We'll continue there in January. For cemeteries, we added 13 new counties, and 92 new cemetery categories. In total, over 5600 profiles were created in Alabama, and 43% of those are connected to the main tree.

Florida Team

Team Leader Needed!

Georgia Team

Team Leader Needed!

Maryland Team

Gina Jarvi

During 2023 the USBH Maryland team was busy in Montgomery and Talbot Counties where we added about 700 profiles. The Maryland team also worked in Baltimore and the District of Columbia. We added over 1300 profiles in cemeteries alone, and began work on the Laurel Hill cemetery project that will continue into 2024. Work also continued on the enslaved held by President James Monroe and his Highland Plantation, the Catoctin Furnace Patterson Project and the Georgetown University 272 project, which got a much needed update while improving and adding profiles. New resources were also added to the Maryland Resources page.

Mississippi Team

Gina Jarvi

The new Mississippi Team opened in April 2023 and began with a focus on the Mound Bayou One Place Study adding over 700 new profiles. As team members came on board, we focused on data sets from the counties of Pontotoc and Lafayette. The team worked from records such as slave schedules and African-American cemeteries, adding 5 cemeteries in Lafayette and two in Pontotoc. The team created profiles and free space pages for slave owners and plantations. We also added many new resources to the Mississippi Resources page.

New Jersey

Janet Demcoe

The New Jersey Team page has been fleshed out and the 1880 census spreadsheet prepared for the first focus county, Middlesex. The AA population was just under 7,000 for this county.

Ohio Team

Christy Melick, Amy Johnson

The Ohio team was started in April 2023. We've focused our work in Lawrence and Gallia counties, with over 3300 Ohio profiles being created in 2023.

South Carolina Team

Michelle Detwiler, David Hamilton, Emma MacBeath

Work continues in Charleston County, South Carolina. There's so much to do!

Virginia Team

Cheryl Cruise, Gina Jarvi

During 2023, the USBH Virginia state team focused on data sets from the counties of Albemarle, Caroline, and Wythe, Virginia. The team worked from records such as Confederate payrolls, cohabitation records, slave schedules, wills, and African-American cemeteries, created profiles and free space pages for slaves, slave owners, and plantations, and added newly discovered resources to the USBH Virginia and individual USBH county resource pages.

Virginia continues to have the highest number of USBH profiles of all the states!

Members in the Spotlight

Thank you to our many generous and hard working USBH Project members. Here are a few who were Featured Members of the Week this quarter. (click on the link to see their interviews in g2g)

Welcome New Members!

Welcome to our new members this quarter!

Debi (McGee) Hoag (welcome back), D Armistead, Amanda Dunker, Timothy Kilby, Kristen Stiefel, Susan Tucker, Sharon (Coyle) Ballard, Anne Fiordalisi, Val Rollins, Alyssha Rose Jordan-Bird, Mason Bunker, Jennifer (Lawrence) McDougall, Buffalofish Woodruff

Welcome New Team Leaders!

Karen Lee Kentucky

New Team Leaders in Training

Janet (Adams) Demcoe New Jersey
Taneya Koonce Tennessee

Congrats New PATH Graduates!

Sjana Lee (Dreyer) Bauer, Whitney Cecil, Rick Fryrear, M Cole, Mary (Brown) Haak, Anonymous Runnette, Kristen Stiefel, Ryan O'Hair, Sharon (Coyle) Ballard, Amanda Dunker, Lily (Robison) Swan

Awesome Accomplishments

  • We met our goal of reaching 250,000 profiles by the end of 2023 six weeks early!
  • We've completed two states (Idaho and Utah) for the 1880 Census Project with several more almost completed.

2024 Goals for USBH

Here are a few of our 2024 goals

  • 400,000 profiles in total, with 100k being brand new, 200k connected.
  • Continue to focus on connection, especially by adding family to already connected family.
  • Start the internship program.
  • Begin tracking the number of new profiles versus how many are newly stickered.
  • Begin the 1880 Census Project with a starting goal of one spreadsheet for each state with at least one finishable county. Complete one county for each state by end of year.
  • Begin the Black Churches Team by second quarter.
  • Begin the DNA Team by end of quarter.
  • Profile Improvement: Add at least one category to every profile - location categories, maintenance categories, and Heritage Exchange categories are highest priority.
  • Continue Notable Birthday and Connecting Challenges
  • Continue the Quarterly newsletter
  • Create and implement standards for working on project managed profiles for Heritage Exchange
  • Create more help videos for the project in general and Heritage Exchange.
  • Outreach and Education:Create a new self-paced education program both for the Path and for people outside the project.
  • Notables: Increase our number of completed Platinum profiles, make more use of the descendant sticker, increase our number of connected profiles.
  • Heritage Exchange: Continue to create checklists by county to identify and create profiles for slave owners.
  • State Teams: Continue to work through the counties systematically. More state teams will be created only when we have members willing to take on team leadership. The goal is to eventually have a team for every state.
  • Cemeteries: Keep doing what you're doing. It's obviously working!


+ in parenthesis is how many were added in 2023.

  • Number of Profiles (Jan 1, 2024): 268,195 (+106,592)!!
  • Number of Cemeteries: 2,287 (+1,221)!!
  • Number of Notables: 3,909 (+1019)!!
  • Number of Plantations: 336 (+92)!!

End of 2023 Heritage Exchange Statistics
(bold are highest increase for the quarter)

Enslaved AncestorsSlave Owners Free People Of Color
Alabama 3272 673 120
Arkansas 477 149 15
California 1 2 21
Connecticut 81 327 422
Delaware 102 301 76
D.C. 82 24 97
Florida 2345 414 6
Georgia 4683 1915 116
Illinois 4 10 94
Indiana 1 5 271
Iowa 0 9 10
Kansas 5 5 8
Kentucky 3602 2010 368
Louisiana 914 609 491
Maine 4 10 31
Maryland 1575 1159 343
Massachusetts 169 400 1147
Michigan 0 0 148
Minnesota 0 0 3
Mississippi 1523 670 21
Missouri 293 274 30
Nebraska 0 0 0
New Hampshire 38 52 72
New Jersey 128 179 171
New Mexico 0 0 2
New York 63 227 852
North Carolina 4595 2,010 664
Ohio 1 2 1234
Oklahoma 108 25 1
Pennsylvania 22 58 1110
Rhode Island 21 62 120
South Carolina 8149 1579 260
Tennessee 985 737 38
Texas 1015 297 19
Utah 04 2 0
Vermont 0 0 186
Virginia 18,257 4740 1590
West Virginia 141 65 0
Wisconsin 2 3 5
Quarter increase:+4300+1354+707
YTD Totals: 52,662 (+19,847!!) 19,004 (+7,004) 10,162 (+3,411)

End of 2023 Cemetery Statistics. Amazing!

#States#Counties #Cemetery Categories#Profiles#Graves%Complete% Cty Complete
Qtrly Chg+1+56+373+5,410+123,165
YTD Change+1+274+1,221+18,741+524,850

Profiles by Birth Location (top 10) Quarter 4, 2023

  1. Virginia 45,899
  2. North Carolina 27,462
  3. Georgia 20,383
  4. South Carolina 18,837
  5. Texas 18,768
  6. Louisiana 14,735
  7. Alabama 14,341
  8. Mississippi 13,775
  9. Kentucky 12, 056
  10. Maryland 8,775 (Maryland moved above Tennessee this quarter)

Profiles by USA Birth Location (less than 50 profiles) Quarter 4, 2023

four states moved above 50 profiles this quarter
  1. Alaska 2
  2. North Dakota 9
  3. Hawaii 12
  4. South Dakota 21
  5. Wyoming 21
  6. Idaho 25
  7. Arizona 45

Don't forget we still have about 7500 profiles without birth locations, so they don't get counted in the birth location statistics above. Please double check you are adding a birth location when creating profiles. Our number of profiles without locations continues to rise because many of you aren't adding them. Eep! ALL profiles should have at least an estimated birth location on them.

If you cannot find at least the state of birth, make a best estimate based on sources, mark the location as uncertain, and add a research note.

Past Featured Members


Comments: 5

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I'm inspired to be part of a team with so many people doing so many wonderful things. Though you may not like the image, I imagine USBH as an ant colony -- everyone doing a little tiny piece, but collectively getting a massive amount done. Or, as I heard often as a child, "Many hands make light work." The stats are amazing.
posted by Karen Lee
I'm surprised you haven't heard me say "Many hands make light work" yet! I use this phrase all the time because with this project it's 100% true :-) Emma

I'm wondering is there is a count of USBH team members, I'd love to have a number to tell people about, as I am talking about the project to others, encouraging them to join.

Is there a list of the USBH team members?

Or, specifically, has Michael Denis has joined. I've been encouraging him to join, and hoping that he will, as he is a Kentucky African American Genealogy expert.


posted by Karen Lee
I don't know if I ever replied to this question! We sort of have a count of team members depending on the team. Some teams have more fluidity of members than others. In other words lots of us have shiny object syndrome and like to jump down rabbit holes :-) You can see how many project members there are by clicking on your own USBH badge. Emma
Awesome project, teams and achievements!