more than you ever wanted to
is the premiere online destination for anyone conducting African American or African Ancestored genealogical research.
The website consists of twenty-seven forums, eight regular chats, the AfriGeneas Mail List and over 100 additional discussion, geographic and surname mailing lists, a surnames database
containing over 50,000 records, a death records database containing over
17,000 obituaries and funeral programs, a marriage records
database of over 5000 records, a slave records
collection of over 3000 records, census schedules, a documents and articles library,
rss news feeds and much, much more.
The AfriGeneas Family Reunion Primer
is the top-ranked
African American family reunion planning site.
Part of what makes AfriGeneas so successful is that it is more than a compilation of records, it is a community of researchers, many of whom are experts in their fields.
Whether they are genealogy newbies or old hands, what binds them all together,
is a willingness to share and to help others achieve their goals of reuniting with the ancestors. Our motto is: “Each one, teach one.”
AfriGeneas is run by a small staff and a dedicated group of volunteers. Webmaster Valencia King
Nelson and Site Administrator B.J. Smothers are responsible for the day-to-day operations.
AfriGeneas evolved from a small group of “GeneaBuddies” into the largest African Ancestored
genealogy mailing list and
from that into the best-known African Ancestored genealogy forums and chats on the internet.
It grew from traditional genealogy to fill a specific need: to assist every researcher with African ancestry to find his roots. In particular, AfriGeneas aims to help researchers to climb the “1870 brick wall” and to reconnect their family trees across the chasm created by slavery and the diaspora.
AfriGeneas began in the late 1980s on independent Bulletin Board Systems and on Special Interest Groups at Prodigy, Compuserve and America Online. By 1996, the AfriGeneas name had been coined and AfriGeneas consisted of several interconnected services housed at different locations on the internet. The backbone of AfriGeneas was the mailing list hosted by Mississippi State University which had thousands of subscribers. AfriGeneas also had a presence on AOL, in particular with the African American genealogy chats hosted by the Genealogy Forum. There was also a website and an e-newsletter.
The AfriGeneas.com domain was launched in March 1999.
See "Welcome and Perspective"
for further information.
The "AfriGeneas Family"
The AfriGeneas Family
pictured in our logo has become synonymous with AfriGeneas. The five
generations of a slave family on J.J. Smith's Plantation, Beaufort,
South Carolina were captured on film by Civil War photographer Timothy
H. O'Sullivan c.1862.
How To Pronounce AfriGeneas
The word AfriGeneas is derived from
African American Genealogy Buddies. It's pronounced:
A · fri · GEE · nee · as. Hear it spoken.
Valencia King Nelson
1496 Soaring Pointe NE
Marietta, GA 30062
322 Union Street
Selma, AL 36701
Rankings and Traffic Statistics
• AfriGeneas averages 1.3 million page views, 225,000 visits and
100,000 unique sites every month.
• AfriGeneas is Google’s top-ranked site for searches on “African American genealogy”. The
AfriGeneas Family Reunion Primer is Google’s
top-ranked African American family reunion website.
• The AfriGeneas front page (http://www.afrigeneas.com)
has a Google PageRank of 6/10.
• Alexa’s traffic rankings place AfriGeneas.com in the top 40,000 sites (out of 80 million+) per month.
• Ranking.com ranks AfriGeneas in the top 60,000 sites.
• One of Family Tree Magazine’s Best 101 Genealogy Websites for nine
years in a row. In 2004, AfriGeneas was named to their Hall of Fame. In 2006, AfriGeneas was designated a “Reader Favorite”.
• Voice of America Website of the Week in February 2006.
• Listed in the New York Public Library’s Best of the Web.
• Named a “Family History Favorite” by Ancestry.com, “Best of the Net” by About.com and “One Great Genealogy Site” by OneGreatFamily.com.
See "Our Awards" for
Who’s Who at AfriGeneas
Valencia King Nelson
Valencia King Nelson, one of the original founders, is an online genealogy pioneer and the guiding light of AfriGeneas.
Ms. Nelson was a pioneer in launching the development of Black genealogy on the internet. She and a few others visionaries realized that the Bulletin Board System could easily
accommodate genealogy. With Ms. Nelson paving the way, the Black genealogy community was born and soon connected researchers from New York to Ohio to points south.
Ms. Nelson is a retired Social Worker who spent most of her professional career at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As an interesting aside, one of her students at UCSB—Steve Case—went on to found AOL, although at the time she admits that she had “no clue” about his future direction and success. Three years ago she received a Lifetime Achievement Award and retired as the Personnel Director of the Genealogy Forum at AOL where she spent more than a decade spearheading the African American Special Interest Group.
Originally from Anniston, Alabama, she now resides in Marietta, Georgia.
B.J. Smothers is a co-founder of AfriGeneas’ website, AfriGeneas.com. She has been its developer and site administrator from
its inception in 1999.
Ms. Smothers has been researching her family history for over 20 years. In 1995 she discovered online genealogy and began transcribing records and sharing them on the internet. She founded African American Census Schedules Online (which is now a part of AfriGeneas.com) and African American Cemeteries Online. She became part of the Alabama GenWeb Project in 1996 and has been the coordinator of the Dallas County and Wilcox County sites ever since. Her current projects include the Black Belt DNA Project hosted by Family Tree DNA and
co-sponsored by AfriGeneas with the goal of reconnecting Alabama Black Belt families whose ties were torn apart by slavery, the Civil War and the Diaspora.
Ms. Smothers was reared in Queens, NY and lived in Atlanta, GA for 20
years. She currently resides in Selma, AL. She is a former banker, urban planner,
historic preservation consultant and antiques shop owner. She is the
founder and President of the Black Belt African American Genealogical
and Historical Society headquartered in Selma.
Mail List and Help Desk Coordinator
Eric Thomas manages the main AfriGeneas mailing lists at MsState.edu and
100-plus surname and geographic mail lists on the Yahoo and AfriGeneas servers. He keeps the meeting rooms and chat center functioning and user friendly and is a
co-manager of the AfriGeneas Genealogy Technology forum.
Eric Thomas became actively involved in genealogy in the early 1980's. He began frequenting genealogy BBSes and about 1990 he became a regular visitor to Tracks, a BBS that that Valencia King Nelson operated out of Anniston, AL. He has been affiliated with AfriGeneas and its precursors ever since. In addition to his work with AfriGeneas, Mr. Thomas is a founding member and past two term president of the Sacramento African American Genealogy Group (SAAGG).
Originally from Philadelphia, he now lives in Sacramento, CA. He is twice retired from careers as a computer programmer and from the Sacramento Fire Department.
Angela Walton-Raji is a well-known and respected expert in African American and African-Native genealogy. She was the long-time moderator of the African American and African-Native genealogy chats at AOL and currently co-hosts the Tuesday night chats at AfriGeneas.com. She is also the manager of AfriGeneas’ African-Native American forum.
Ms. Walton-Raji, the author of several books including Black Indian Genealogy Research: African American Ancestors Among the Five Civilized Tribes, a guide to researching the 20,000 Freedmen of the Indian Territory, has researched her family history for more than a quarter of a century. In 1991, she found her family records among those of the Choctaw Nation then discovered that her great grandparents were African slaves of Choctaw Indians, and that her ancestors were among several thousand Africans who were enslaved by Native Americans, including those who migrated west on the Trail of Tears.
Ms. Walton-Raji has spent more than twenty years in higher education recruitment. She
currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland where she is the Director of Graduate School Recruitment at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Staff" for additional personnel.
See also "Books by AfriGeneas
Representative News Articles
Wilmington (NC) Star-News -- 31 Jul 2006
The flower child: It's a tradition many have forgotten, but the spirit of young girls bringing bouquets to the dead lives on in a few congregations
WNCV-TV (Raleigh, NC) – 6 Mar 2006
Researching Your Family Tree
Salon Magazine – 21 Feb 2006
Jim Crow and The Indians
The Journal News (Westchester, NY) – 17 Feb 2006
At 100, she's living history
USA Today – 1 Feb 2006
DNA rewrites history for African-Americans
The New York Times – 25 Jul 2005
Blacks Pin Hope on DNA to Fill Slavery's Gaps in Family Trees
Black Enterprise – Jun 2005
In black face: the good, the bad, and the ugly is the history of her collection
Selected Sites that Link to AfriGeneas
AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES ( PBS series)
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
ANCESTORS (PBS series)
AMERICAN HERITAGE MAGAZINE
Family Tree Magazine
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
PBS (Frontline, Ken Burns’ Civil War, African American World)
African American Historical and Genealogical Society
Arlington (VA) Department of Libraries
Auburn University Libraries
Birmingham (AL) Public Library
Brooklyn (NY) Historical Society
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Cornell University Library
District of Columbia Public Library
Howard University Libraries
Internet Public Library
Librarians’ Internet Index
New York State Library
River Valley Middle School (Jeffersonville, IN)
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
Stanford University Libraries
Tampa Bay (FL) History Center
Tuscaloosa (AL) Public Library
Williamsburg (VA) Regional Library
Winnipeg (CAN) Public Library
York University (Toronto, CAN) Department of History