Library hosts program to help Black people trace family roots

Library hosts program to help Black people trace family roots

“Do you want to know from whence you came?” 

This is what Kevin Graham often asks other Black people to stir an interest in tracing their family roots — a task that many find difficult to accomplish.

On Feb. 11, Graham will be a speaker at the upcoming Rewriting the Stolen Stories of the Graham and Shipp Families program hosted by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. With help from a similar program in Lincoln County, Graham was able to learn more of his family’s history. 

The Rewriting the Stolen Stories program is intended to teach Black people how to use historical tools to trace their family lineage. Attendees will hear from Graham and Archivist of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Sydney Carroll, on experiences using the tools and how they can utilize them.

An ‘extremely difficult’ task

Researching family roots can be a complicated task for many Black Americans because of the transatlantic slave trade and the dispersal of families — with limited documentation — for generations afterward.

Carroll said that she has had to look in some “unique” places to uncover the roots of Black family trees. Carroll said she used tools such as historical maps, wills and slave schedules, census forms used in the 1850 and 1860 federal census. 

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