Tracking Black Ancestry: Lessons from Genealogist Tony Burroughs

Tony-BurroughsTony Burroughs is an expert on Black American genealogy and also is an all-around good guy. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Tony for years and have always been impressed by both his knowledge and his delightful personality. Today, I was pleasantly surprised to see an article about Tony’s work written by Branden Hampton and published in the Northwestern University’s Medill news service.

Hampton writes:

“If you think that black lives matter, then ancestors’ lives matter as well: Without them, we wouldn’t be here today, says renowned African American genealogist Tony Burroughs.

“’Genealogy is important for many reasons. Once you start researching your family history and finding your ancestors, you might find that some of them were activists in their struggles during their days, like our activists in Black Lives Matter today,’ said Burroughs.”

You can read the full article at


I met Tony several years ago and discovered that were are both Salukis (Southern Illinois University-Carbondale alums).

My favorite quote of his is:
“But access to billions of records will not guarantee genealogical success any more than walking into a library will make people smart. Genealogists will still need genealogical and analytical skills to solve complex problems. Success in genealogy is based on available records, access to resources, knowledge of history, analytical ability, technical skills, genealogical skills and persistence. If any one of these ingredients is lacking, or is not of a high enough skill level, difficult genealogical challenges will go unsolved, often for years.”


ALL lives matter.


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