10 Feb

The Andrew Williams Family of Seneca Village: A Case Study of African American Research in New York

Saturday, February 10, 2018 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Aaron Goodwin
Event Location: 
Columbia University, Uris Hall Room 301, 3022 Broadway (at 119th Street), New York NY
Event Sponsor: 
Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society and the New York Genealogical Society

Join us for a journey back in time to meet the Andrew Williams family, who lived in what is now part of Central Park.

Prior researchers of Seneca Village for New York City museums and archives hit a brick wall trying to discover more about the Williams family. They were unsuccessful in tracing any Williams' descendants forward. 

Seneca Village was a small community of free African Americans, located in what is now Central Park between 82nd and 89th streets in New York City. Andrew Williams was one of the original community members who purchased land in 1825.

After slavery was abolished in New York in 1827, the community grew rapidly - African Americans still faced danger and discrimination, and Seneca Village was removed from most of the population, which lived below 14th street at that time.

The community, which had 264 residents in the 1855 State Census, was tragically destroyed in 1857 to make way for the creation of Central Park. Those who lived in Seneca Village dispersed and their stories were lost.

Many researchers have attempted to trace the descendants of Andrew Williams forward, with little success. But Aaron Goodwin has made exciting progress in his recent work, breaking through the brick walls related to researching this family from Seneca Village.

The work of Goodwin - author of The New York City Municipal Archives: An Authorized Guide - sets the stage to remind genealogists that by using traditional genealogical sources and a thorough, methodical research plan, much more can be discovered about the African American residents of Seneca Village and beyond that settlement, in nineteenth century New York City.

This event is free and open to the public. Click here to register. Online registration closes Friday, February 9, at 3:00 pm. Please register onsite if online registration is closed.