Military Records for African-American Genealogy

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Afro-American Historical Society’s 2018 Black History Month Genealogy Conference in Laurel, Maryland. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with Alice F. Harris and Bernice Bennett, and to meet Marvin T. Jones, Erwin Polk, and others. All lecture handouts are available on the conference website. Much of my handout, Military Records for African-American Genealogy: Suggestions for Researchers, is applicable to all researchers regardless of color. I hope you’ll find it useful.

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Congratulations to Reginald Washington, 2015 NGS Award of Merit recipient!

My former colleague, retired NARA African-American Genealogy Specialist Reginald Washington, was recently recognized by the National Genealogical Society for his contributions to the field of genealogy. Congratulations, Reggie! The honor is well deserved. Read on for more details from the NGS press release:

Arlington, VA, 19 May 2015—The National Genealogical Society (NGS) held its annual banquet on Friday evening, 15 May, at the NGS 2015 Family History Conference in Saint Charles, Missouri, to present awards that acknowledge and honor genealogical scholarship and service. Each year, these awards are presented to organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to NGS programs or have performed outstanding work in the field of genealogy, history, biography, or heraldry. This year, twelve awards were presented.

NGS Award of Merit

The Award of Merit is presented to an individual or non-profit genealogical or historical organization in recognition of exceptional contributions to the field of genealogy that have significantly aided research or increased interest in genealogy over a period of five or more years. The 2015 Award of Merit was presented to Reginald Washington of Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Washington’s contributions to the study and preservation of African-American records is truly exceptional. For three decades, he has introduced researchers to many little-known, but incredibly rich, record collections that are now staples for genealogical research. His labors have given researchers online access to a half-million documents from the files of the Southern Claims Commission and more than a million from the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Freedman’s Savings & Trust Company. Washington has taught at the National Institute for Genealogical Research and has been a popular draw at NGS conferences for two decades. He has published articles in the NGS Quarterly, in Prologue (the scholarly journal of the National Archives), and in popular magazines such as Ancestry. He authored the National Archives’ guide, Black Family Research … At the National Archives; created instructional videos for occasions such as the 150th Anniversary celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation; and was a featured expert in the BYU television series Ancestors.