Karin D. Berry

Expert Author

Karin D. Berry has researched her family history since 1988. She specializes in writing about African-American genealogy research methods. Her articles, book reviews and op-ed articles have been published in Essence, Black Enterprise, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Macon Telegraph, the Baltimore Sun, the Evening Sun, Emerge, the Philadelphia Daily News and on TheRoot.com.

Favorite Genealogy Quote

"Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise." ~ Maya Angelou

What are your specific genealogical interests?

I am researching multiple lines of my family, who lived in four states -- Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina and Louisiana. For example, my paternal great-grandmother’s family members were freedmen who migrated from Tennessee to Ohio in the mid-1840s. My father’s family, the Longs and Enochs were enslaved in North Carolina and migrated to Ohio.

What got you into genealogy?

I started researching my family with my sister shortly after my father died. I felt a need to connect with his family. I realized I was intensely curious about both sides of my family and just continued researching from there. I attended a Berry family reunion a month after he died in 1988, and organized a reunion for my Long and Enoch families in 1991. I’ve been attending reunions for these families and reconnecting with my relatives since then.

Most surprising genealogical find:

When I began researching my Brown family, my sister and I asked my maternal grandfather about who his people were. My grandfather told me his grandfather was lynched. I waited more than 20 years to document the lynching, mainly because I wasn’t sure that I would be able to find any details. I found a newspaper article written about the lynching, which occurred in September 1879 in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. I was very happy to show my grandfather a copy of the article.

What family history question would you most like to solve?

I have a lot of brick walls, and plenty of questions, mostly connected to my slave ancestors. Where did my great-great grandfather’s surname come from? Berry is not the surname of his last slave owner. I have a physical description that indicates he was mixed-race -- light-skinned with green eyes. Was his father a slave owner?

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