After the Civil War, blacks began searching for a new life, new freedom which involved the quest for land or the security of employment. The passing of the Homestead Act in 1862 did not restrict the acquisition of land to only the white race. There was an opportunity for blacks from Canada, the east coast, the states along the Ohio River and the deep South to begin a new life. Nebraska was a promising area for new land owners. With the expansion of the west and more settlements, there was a need for military protection, thus many blacks became Buffalo Soldiers, eventually finding themselves at Fort Robinson or Fort Niobrara in Nebraska. As the railroad forged through Nebraska, it brought new settlements as well as employment. Blacks often worked in positions, such as porters, which brought pride and stability to their families. In order to research the lineages of the African-Americans who came to Nebraska, researchers need to use traditional methods of research, and also rely on a certain amount of family information and stories that interweave with the direct evidence found in documents. The research is unusual because of name changes, lack of knowledge of ages or places of birth, along with the innate problems of being a slave. This webinar explores the areas settled by blacks before and after their arrival in Nebraska, the time periods, why they came to Nebraska, their connections and influences. Emphasis will be placed on the types of records that are useful in this type of research and are applicable to other areas besides Nebraska.
Ruby Coleman, who resides in North Platte, Nebraska, spends a good deal of her time doing genealogical research on her families in Nebraska and the plains states, and also professionally. She has lived in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. She has written articles for Ancestry, Heritage Quest, The Genealogical Helper, Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy. For thirteen years she wrote the column, "Heritage Lines" for the North Platte Telegraph, North Platte, NE. Her books, Iowa Genealogical Records and Genealogical Research in Nebraska were published in 2014. She has presented lectures for the Family History Expo. Currently Coleman is president of the North Platte Genealogical Society and a past president of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society. Using her knowledge of Nebraska and the plain states genealogy and history, plus genealogical methodology, Coleman writes, lectures and teaches genealogy. She is a member numerous local, state and national genealogical organizations. In 2012 she was named 2011 Nebraska Genealogist of the Year by the Nebraska State Genealogical Society.