Alumna Kristin Britanik (MHP ‘09) co-authored an article for The Root this past July with literary critic and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The article, entitled “Did Africans Immigrate to Jim Crow America?” addresses a reader question about tracing the roots of her great-great-grandfather, who willingly immigrated to the United States during post-Civil War segregation, or the Jim Crow era. Tracing the history of African American immigration and offering practical insights into uncovering genealogy, Britanik and Gates offer a host of resources, useful to anyone looking to trace their roots.
“Although there are many challenges to tracing one's lineage, research is particularly hard for those of African descent,” says Britanik. “For example, before 1870, the names of enslaved African Americans were largely omitted from the Federal Census returns. This is not to say that learning more about your African American ancestors is impossible, rather it just might take some extra work and creativity in finding sources of information.”
Britanik, who most recently worked for the New England Historic Genealogical Society, recently moved to Pittsburgh with her fiancé, where she hopes to continue work in historic preservation.