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Finding Oprah's roots : finding your own

by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

  Print book  |  1st ed

Great Combination of African American Genealogical Story and Methodology   (2008-04-17)


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by CWitcher

Though this work is crafted around the search for Oprah Winfrey's ancestors, and that narrative is well told and wonderfully detailed, the book is so much more than Oprah's genealogy. Through the research involved in discovering Oprah's family history, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. details a meaningful strategy for engaging in African American genealogical research. The strategy is carefully laid out, well organized, and thoroughly explained. Of equal importance is the way Dr. Gates demonstrates how both historical records and science, through DNA analysis, came together to assist in compiling Oprah's genealogy.In articulating research methodology, Dr. Gates emphasizes the importance education and land played in the lives of African Americans. Following families in and through those records is very important in successful genealogical research. Gates also stresses the importance of gathering as much data as possible from living relatives, and further, consistently confirming that data and those stories with documents.These are several special sections of this work worthy of note.First:On page 109 of this work, Gates and his researchers provide an extremely useful list of the 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules which actually list the given names of the slaves. Most researchers know that the overwhelming majority of slave schedules only list numbers of males and females, ages, and color. These few schedules, though, list the slaves' given names.1850 Slave Schedules which provide given names of the slaves:Utah County, Utah; Bowie County, Texas; & Scott County, Tennessee1860 Slave Schedules which provide given names of the slaves:Boyd County, Kentucky; Camden County, North Carolina; Washington County, Tennessee (districts 9 and 17); the City of St. Louis, Missouri (part of the 2nd ward); & Hampshire County, VirginiaSecond:The thirteen page appendix is quite useful in concisely identifying research strategies as well as excellent sources for additional reading and study. Specific articles from the "National Genealogical Society Quarterly" are cited for consultation. These articles are well worth exploring as are the web sites that are also referenced. Finally:Though not noted in many bibliographic references, the work does have an index--always useful in quickly identifying specific pieces of data within a work.

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