I wanted to share this interesting infographic from Archives.com showing the growth of diversity in America from 1820 to 2009, which was done in celebration of Family History Month. A lot of research went into this but I have to confess my first thought was – what about Africans brought to this country in slavery or what I view as “forced” immigration. If you’re wondering the same thing, here’s what happened.
The timeline in the Family History Month infographic below picks up right as there was a major shift in the politics on slavery. In 1820, the United States took a bold step when it made the trading of African slaves a crime of “piracy” that was punishable by death. From that point on, those engaging in the slave trade did so at the peril of their lives. As a result, the number of African slaves entering this country dropped to a fraction of what it used to be.
Even though the African slave trade was effectively shut down, the numbers of slaves in the U.S. continued to grow unchecked at a phenomenal rate between 1820 and the abolishment of slavery in 1865. It still boggles the mind at how convoluted political thought process could make trading slaves a crime but continuing the institution of slavery still legal? Sadly, it took America far too long to sort that one out.
As the great great granddaughter of both a slave and a slaveowner, the public and personal politics behind the institution of slavery are always lurking in the corner of my mind as I do Black family genealogy. If you decide to learn more about your family this October during Family History Month, spice up research about your ancestors by taking a peek at the politics in play during their times.
I haven’t gotten into the DNA side of my genealogy yet but it is a way to discover more detail about my African American family history that’s often hard to document, my European roots and maybe even the Native American ancestors Great Aunt Clara said we have.
As I get closer to the ordering that little kit that’s supposed to map out my genetic DNA, I wanted a little more info. So researcher that I am, I started poking around and found a great series of videos that explains a complicated scientific principle in a user-friendly (and kind of cute way). Here they are for you to watch at your leisure.
If you liked this first videos, here are the links to the rest in the series:
Genetics 101, Part 2 – What are SNPs?
Genetics 101, Part 3 – Where do your genes come from?
Genetics 101, Part 4 – What is phenotype?
Are you planning to add genetic DNA testing to your genealogy toolkit?