LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson: Author | Teacher | Certified Genealogical Lecturer ℠ | Certified Genealogist® | Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists

A Guide to Researching African American Ancestors in Laurens County, SC, and Selected Finding Aids, by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, Published by Xlibris, 2016, ISBN13 Hardcover: 978-1-5245-2354-1, ISBN13 Softcover: 978-1-5245-2353-4, and ISBN13 ebook: 978-15245-2352-7, 446 pp., Illustrations, index, photographs.

I have written this book to aid researchers of African-ancestored families from Laurens County, South Carolina (Laurens). Although the focus is on sources of particular relevance to African Americans, the book also contains information about slave-holding families. Moreover, as described by Kenneth H. Thompson in the 20 November 2016 review in his long-running genealogy column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this book is “an important model for others.”

It is both a locality guide with tips on where to look for sources and a bit of a “how to” manual for those who have not yet studied the genealogical proof standard. Although it focuses on a single county in South Carolina, the book provides general information applicable to all SC counties, as well as guidance relevant to developing and executing a research plan in any of the historical slave states. It also includes or points to information about “modern” finding aids and websites that cannot be found in similar reference books published more than ten or even five years ago.

In addition to practical advice based on  my genealogical research and formal studies, the book’s 446 pages include the following information specific to Laurens:

  • Free Persons of Color in Antebellum Laurens
  • Slaves in Will Transcripts (1782–1860)
  • Legislative Papers (1782–1866)
  • Comptroller General Tax Return Books (1866–1868)
  • 1869 SC State Population Census
  • 1860 US Census Slave Schedule and Matching African American Surnames in the 1870 US Census
  • Excerpts of Freedmen Bureau Records
  • Grave Markers at Five African American Churches

The book is available on,, and, in hard cover, soft cover, and e-book formats.


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