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  • Writer's pictureKellie Farrish

Reparative Genealogy: Bringing the descendants of enslavers and the enslaved together

Healing the legacy of slavery through genealogy research can be a transformative process for both African Americans and white Americans who are descendants of slave owners. By understanding their family history and making connections with one another, individuals can work together to promote healing and foster a greater sense of understanding. Here are some steps that can be taken to facilitate this process:

  1. Conduct genealogical research: Both African Americans and white Americans can start by researching their family histories, using resources such as census records, wills, probate records, and other historical documents. Online databases and local archives can also provide valuable information.

  2. Connect with others: Online forums, genealogy websites, and social media platforms can be used to connect with others who share a similar heritage. These connections can help people uncover new information and provide support during the research process.

  3. Build relationships: Descendants of enslaved people and slave owners can foster relationships through open dialogue, sharing their stories, and discussing the impact of their family history on their lives. This mutual understanding can lead to empathy and help heal the wounds of the past.

  4. Preserve and share stories: Documenting and sharing the stories of enslaved ancestors can help keep their memories alive and honor their lives. This can be done through oral histories, written narratives, or even multimedia projects.

  5. Engage in community initiatives: Descendants can work together to create and support initiatives that address the lingering effects of slavery, such as promoting racial equity, supporting education and economic opportunities for marginalized communities, and advocating for the preservation of African American heritage sites.

  6. Participate in restorative justice efforts: Collaborate with organizations that focus on restorative justice and reparations to address the historical and ongoing effects of slavery. These initiatives can provide a platform for healing and reconciliation.

  7. Educate others: Share your genealogical findings and experiences with others to raise awareness about the history of slavery and its impact on present-day society. This can help foster a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding race relations and contribute to a more inclusive and compassionate society.

Remember that healing the legacy of slavery is a complex and ongoing process. Genealogy research can be a valuable tool in promoting understanding and reconciliation, but it is just one part of a larger journey towards healing and social justice.

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New York Resources

New York Slavery Records Index, Records of Enslaved Persons and Slave Holders in New York from 1525 through to the Civil War: Lehman College, Slavery Indexes-Ens

New Jersey Resources

History of Slavery in New Jersey, Wikipedia: African Amerian Ancestry Research in New Jersey, Family Search:

Mississippi Resources

Mississippi Probate Records, 1781-1930: Mississippi African American Ancestry Resources, Family Search:


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