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    The Jubilee Singers. (1875). Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.
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NPR Interview w/ Henry Louis Gates

Courtesy of Mark via his Twitter feed, I learned that NPR has an interview today with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Check it out on their site.

Gates is the author of Finding Oprah’s Roots: Finding Your Own – published in 2007 that describes the work done on her family tree.  As you may know, Oprah has Nashville roots.  I did a quick search online and found this excerpt from Jet magazine in 1972 about her win as “Miss Fire Prevention” while she was a student at Tennessee State University. 


People.com even has a picture of her win!


Google Magazines

Google has recently added magazines to their Google Books database. Of note, they have included several magazines particularly relevant to African-American culture.  Some titles of note include:


To limit your Google Books search to any particular title, for example, in Jet magazine specifically, use the annotation “intitle: Jet” after your search term.

Descendants of W.T. Hightower

Tonight I was contacted by another descendant of W.T. Hightower, a merchant from Nashville. This is the second descendant in the past six months.  I love it!

With that, I decided to look again at the family of William Thomas Hightower Sr. and I found a couple of more census records to add to their tree

With some more online searching, I located a reference to W.T. in the book Evidence of Progress Among Colored People by G.F. Richings, published in 2005.  In the book, it mentions that “W.T. Hightower started a business as a dealer in old rags and iron with a capital of 25 cents.  He now owns a large brick building and a beautiful home.”

Many others from Nashville are also mentioned in the book, including J.C. Napier, Preston A. Taylor,  Dr. R.F. Boyd, and others. I’ll have to look at this more closely.

Finding & Using African-American Newspapers

A recent post by George Geder has brought my attention to a new book on the use of African-American newspapers for genealogy research.  The book is written by Timothy Pinnick and on his website you can even read the first chapter for free.

I am personally a huge proponent of newspaper research for precisely many of the same reasons PInnick outlines in the first chapter of the book – it’s an excellent source to come to better understand the community back then and can be rewarding to read of even just the day-to-day activities.

I plan to add this to my wish list of books to get.  I am very much looking forward to reading it!

Negro Year Book: 1931-1932

One of my favorite online resources is Google Books. For doing genealogy research, I find it an indispensable tool.  Google has scanned many books that are in the public domain which can also be downloaded in their entirety as a PDF file. Even for those books that are not in the public domain, the ability to search them and search across collections of books can help lead to discoveries.

This week, I’ve begun to use Microsoft’s book project, Live Search Books, as well. While as much extra-linked information is not available in Live Search Books, I do like their interface.  While continuing the search on James Carroll Napier and his family, I located the Negro Year Book for 1931-1937 on there.

The Negro Year Book provides an overview of various aspects relative to blacks in society in the county (and in some other countries). The Year Book covers statistics, stories in the news of discrimination against blacks,  politics, descriptions of organizations & associations, general biographical sketches, etc. It’s a nice historical resource and I’ve used it for some reference of a few individuals.

Update – Microsoft has disbanded their Live Search, so the book is no longer available there.

The Children – by David Halberstam

Today at a used book store, I picked up a copy of the book The Children, by David Halberstam. It was published in 1998 and follows about 12 college students through the Civil Rights movement here in Nashville. How fitting a book to pick up the day before MLK holiday. Should be an interesting book! I’ve added it to the slowly growing Bibliography page.