Tony Burroughs: More than just another genealogist...

Mavis Jones of Georgia Black Crackers has posted our photo with my friend Carla and Tony Burroughs.  I really had a good time at the event with them.  I had never met Mavis in person although we have been tweeting for about 10 months.

We are so fortunate to have such a great mentor and professional genealogist like Tony Burroughs. It was wonderful to hear that he has been visiting students and discussing genealogy on this visit to SC.  We really enjoyed his presentation and the way he makes history come to life.  I am excited to tell you that once again I learned new things.  Tony has an awesome way of teaching beginners and throwing in new information for those of us who are seasoned researchers if we listening carefully.

I have heard a lot of  opinions shared with me over the years that  African Americans lived together and were not married  on the censuses. I do not believe that is completely accurate because I have documented marriages for many ancestors and have only found one 3rd great grandmother on the 1870 Census who had children and no husband. 

I guess there is a belief out there that African Americans did not embrace marriage after slavery.  We know that many marriages were not recognized that were performed during slavery because they were not considered people.  Many were separated before slavery, and after Emancipation, they frantically sought to locate each other and have marriages recognized legally.

We are dependent on each African American to document their ancestors, preserve the oral history, and share it.  I appreciate the efforts of those whose research is well documented and  provides profound insights which help me to understand African American history.

Our collective research can fill many gaps in American history.  The marriage issue has long been a concern for me.  While there are always exceptions to every norm,  I have had a hard time accepting the opinion that the majority of my ancestors who were born and reared and married in slavery and who were very devout AME and Baptist ministers and members would not do all in their power to sanction marriage.

I gloried in a fact that Tony shared yesterday.  It has almost freed me from the responsibility I have felt  to redeem my ancestors from the tarnish of false assumptions at least with this issue.  He has been able to access documentation that proves at least in SC that the majority of ALL marriages performed prior to slavery were slave marriages.

Now I must do the work of locating these records and researching them.

 I also learned that midwives were required by law to submit birth certificates. Now I know of members of my own family who were midwives.  Many do not search for a birth certificate if they know an ancestor had the help of a midwife.  I can  now go back and possibly locate a few birth certificates they I may have missed.  I know this is a fact because my own mother's birth certificate was registered several years after her birth.

Look for more posts about what I learned and how I am applying it.  I will definitely be sharing a finding from the South Carolina Room at the Greenville County Library as well as great resources that may be useful to you.  I am very impressed with the South Carolina Room.  It is a one-stop shop where you can also order microfilm from the Family History Library.



  1. I have done research for many African American families and very rarely do I find no marriages. I think most of them embraced marriage and the uniting of the family unit.

  2. Thank you, Tina, for sharing that. Even though some speculated with me that most African Mericans are not found on the census as married, all except one of my ancestors on both my paternal and maternal sides (MS, SC, AR)appeared to have never married. She was taken advantage of after slavery and had a mixed race child.


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