Breaking the Brick Wall: Researching in Black & White, Finding the Enslaved and More

  • 14 Feb 2022
  • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Zoom, On line

Breaking the Brick Wall:

Researching in Black & White,

 Finding the Enslaved and More

 Deborah Abbott

Monday, February 14, 2022

Members ONLY

The most difficult part of genealogical research for African Americans is finding and identifying slave ancestors and their owners. This lecture will focus on the clues and resources needed to recreate an African American ancestor’s journey from freedom back to slavery. Using a case study, learn basic tools of family history research. Learn the importance of analyzing the information that you find, identifying potential records, as well as realizing how important collateral/cluster line research is to the success in the genealogical process. Using the 1940 U.S. Federal Census as the starting point, we will follow an African American family back through pre-1870 records to identify the potential slave holder. In addition to the census, this journey will utilize a number of record groups that will help prove how two families, one black, one white are intertwined.

Deborah A. Abbott, PhD, is a professional genealogist specializing in genealogical methodology, manuscript collections, and African American family research. She is a member of the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Archives Commission, an affiliate with the Kentucky-Tennessee Associates, past president of the African American Genealogical Society, Cleveland, Ohio, and a retired professor of Counseling from Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. She holds both the BS and MEd degrees from Tuskegee University in Alabama and the PhD degree from Kent State University in Ohio.

Dr. Abbott is coordinator of the African American Track at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), in addition, she teaches at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) and the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR).  Dr. Abbott also presents lectures and workshops for national, state, and local genealogy conferences, colleges, businesses, and libraries, across the country.  She has had articles published in the Ohio Genealogy News and Family Tree magazines. Dr. Abbott can be found teaching African American genealogy a segment entitled “Needles & Threads” on Ancestry Academy, an educational video course for


"Preserving The Past, Serving The Present, Promoting The Future"

Wabash Valley Genealogy Society 

Based in Vigo County, Terre Haute, Indiana. Serving Clark, Crawford and Edgar Counties in Illinois.

Clay, Greene, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo in Indiana


P.O. Box 7012

Terre Haute, Indiana 47802-7012


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President: Debby Warren      Email:

For other WVGS officers and their contact information click on "Contact" above left.

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