A Word on Methods: Recovering the Stories of Black Virginians in the Union Army by William Kurtz

This blog post is one of several that we will publish in 2017 on our Black Virginians in Blue digital project. The project explores the lives of African American men from Albemarle County, Virginia, who served in the USCT. Jonathan White’s piece on James T. S. Taylor was our first blog entry on the subject.

The publication of Civil War soldiers and sailors databases online has been a major boon to genealogists for years. Civil War scholars also can benefit from these digital resources available at subscription and free sites. For example, compiled military service records can be downloaded from Ancestry.com and its subsidiary site, Fold3.com. These records are important for recreating a soldier’s army career and also list important biographical information such as height, age, place of enlistment, birthplace, and rank. In some cases, these records indicate whether or not African American Union soldiers were freemen or slaves when they enlisted.  For our forthcoming Black Virginians in Blue digital project, I used digital resources to make substantial progress in researching the lives of black Union soldiers from Albemarle County, Virginia, prior to making a research trip to the National Archives in Washington, DC.

The full article can be viewed on the John L. Nau II Center for Civil War History blog.