What FamilySearch is offering as it celebrates Juneteenth and African American genealogy

FamilySearch will provide 6 free online RootsTech classes taught by experts and genealogists on various essential topics

FamilySearch is celebrating Juneteenth by offering free RootsTech online classes focused on African American genealogy.

Six new live and interactive classes, taught by experts and genealogists and hosted by FamilySearch’s deputy chief genealogical officer Thom Reed, will be available on June 19 at, according to a news release.

“Join us also throughout the month of June to discover more about your African American ancestry through dozens of webinars from past RootsTech events,” the news release says.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth — short for “June Nineteenth” — is also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day. It commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States. In June 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden signed legislation that made Juneteenth, or June 19, a federal holiday. 

On Jan. 1, 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free enslaved individuals in the Confederate States. Two and half years later, on June 19, 1865, United States federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and enforce the freeing of all enslaved people. Texas was the last state to free slaves. On that day, former slaves began the celebration of Emancipation Day in the streets of Galveston. 

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Free online classes

Participants will receive a comprehensive overview of African American genealogy with its unique challenges and opportunities.

The Juneteenth classes will focus on essential topics, such as how to get started, helpful resources, effective research strategies, overcoming genealogical hurdles, leveraging DNA testing for African American genealogy, and how to access lesser-known records and resources.

The classes offer information, tips and techniques to assist participants in advancing their family history discoveries. Most of the classes will provide a free, downloadable syllabus.

Participants can also watch via FamilySearch YouTube, RootsTech Facebook and FamilySearch Facebook. Register at to add classes to your personal playlist for future on-demand viewing.

Outline of Juneteenth Online Classes

  • 9:15–10 a.m. MDT — “Juneteenth: Understanding This History and Why It Is Important,” by Janice Gilyard.
  • 10:15–11:15 a.m. MDT — “How I Found an Enslaved Ancestor in My Family Tree: Aaron Anderson,” by Karen Strickland.
  • 11:30 a.m,–12:30 p.m. MDT — “From Ali to Clay: Taking the Family Narrative to DNA,” by Cheri Daniels, Donald Shores, Sherman McRae, Keith Winstead and Eric Brooks.
  • 1–1:45 p.m. MDT — “Unveiling Partnerships: Accessing and Using Cohabitation Records at,” by Taneya Koonce.
  • 2–2:45 p.m. MDT — “A Lineage Society for Descendants of Enslaved Africans: Sons & Daughters of the U.S. Middle Passage,” by Evelyn McDowell and Ruth Hunt.
  • 3–3:45 p.m. MDT — “America’s True Forgotten Patriots,” by Ric Murphy.

More Juneteenth webinars

The following webinars are available for free throughout June 2023 at

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