studies for over 18 years. Archivist, Historian and Genealogist, he is also the author of two books. He has appeared on the NBC show, Who Do You Think You Are, as one of the expert genealogist for Spike Lee in 2010. A former Civil Engineer that worked in corporate American, he now works for the Department of Defense in DC. He also has a Master Degree in African-American Studies from Clark Atlanta University.
Me: Mr. Collier, I know so many documents were destroyed when South Carolina was the first to secede from the Union during the Civil War. It is probably one of the reasons I can't find many of my ancestors. What has the destruction of precious documents done to the African-American diaspora in the south?
MJC: Actually, I consider South Carolina one of my best states when doing slave ancestral research. Many pre-Civil War records exist for South Carolina. And I have documented a number of enslaved ancestors who were originally from South Carolina. Some were born in the late 1700s. People should definitely visit the SCDAH (South Carolina Department of Archives and History) to see what is available. Most pre-Civil War records for South Carolina were not destroyed.
Me: I have read three of your blogs and you are quite the consummate researcher. I did the Ancestry.com DNA test and am currently waiting for results. Also, have just written a novel that is historical in scope but largely fiction. Did you do the DNA testing through ancestry.com or any other place? If so, how helpful was it for you?
MJC: I have done Ancestry.com and 23andMe. 23andMe is much better because of the ancestral tools which allow you to compare and analyze your results.
Me: Thank you for sharing your wealth of information.
I highly recommend reading these three blogs: “The Infamous 1890 Sinkhole” “Grandma Was Right!” and “Got Roots in Madagascar?” The links are posted here. This is Tuesday Talk. Know your history, know yourself.
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