How Do I Track Deep South Roots?

Tracing Your Roots: A reader seeks help doing pre-Civil War research in Mississippi and Tennessee.

(Continued from Page 2)

If you do decide to travel to Coahoma County or the University of Mississippi Archives in Oxford, a little preparation before your trip can greatly aid your research. As mentioned, you will want to contact any libraries, churches and cemeteries before your visit, to make sure the records you would like to search are available for research. You will also want to obtain information on any requirements or associated fees for accessing the records or making copies. The more preparation you do before your trip, the more time you can spend on researching the records. Good luck!

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Founding Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

Send your questions about tracing your own roots to

This answer was provided in consultation with Kristin Britanik, a researcher from New England Historic Genealogical Society. Founded in 1845, NEHGS is the country's leading nonprofit resource for family history research. Its website,, contains more than 300 million searchable records for research in New England, New York and beyond. With the leading experts in the field, NEHGS staff can provide assistance and guidance for questions in most research areas. They can also be hired to conduct research on your family. Learn more today.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.