I am a professional genealogist specializing in African American and St. Louis area research. I am the 1985 recipient of the Louisiana Historical Associations Presidents' Memorial Award for the best article of the year in Louisiana History. I was a researcher for the PBS show "Oprah's Roots: An African American Lives Special", that aired in 2007. I serve as National
Genealogical Society Quarterly review editor. I have published various historical and genealogical studies,
including articles in encyclopedias.
I earned my MA from the University of Louisiana Lafayette, and my Ph. D. in history from the University of Alabama.
The late Gary B. Mills directed my dissertation, "Free Negroes in Mobile County, Alabama". I also received invaluable
assistance from Elizabeth Shown Mills. They helped me to understand the nature of genealogical research and informed
me of sources that I otherwise might have overlooked. I have expanded the Mobile research to include free people of color
in the adjacent county -- Baldwin County, reconstructing all aspects of their lives from birth to death. I have utilized a
number of different sources in tracing them, including probate records (wills, minutes, inventories); deeds; church, marriage, and tax records; newspapers; state supreme court cases; chancery, circuit, city court records; state laws, city ordinances; federal censuses: population, agricultural, manufacturing, mortality, and slave schedules; state census records; city directories; and sexton reports.