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Genealogists continue to help African Americans break through the 1870 ‘brick wall’

For most African Americans looking for their history, the story stops at 1870. Genealogists, historians, and researchers refer to the obstacle as the ‘1870 brick wall.’


Up until the year 1870, the United States Federal Census did not include enslaved individuals in the count.

Since the late 1990s, genealogy companies like ancestry.com and 23 and me, have been helping people connect the dots on family trees. Some people were able to trace their family line back to the 1600s. Unfortunately, for African Americans searching for their ancestors is not so easy.


To help African Americans get past the 1870 brick wall, faculty members at the University of Maryland launched Enslaved.org – a database that will collect documents of enslaved Africans.


To fill the database, Enslaved.org is accepting documents from family historians, genealogy societies, and everyday people who have a piece of history of their enslaved ancestors.

By: Tamika Cody