Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

W. Patrick Wade

Second Advisor

Carol K. Winkler

Third Advisor

Cynthia A. Hoffner

Fourth Advisor

Leigh Anne Liu

Fifth Advisor

Patricia G. Davis


The U.S. heritage tourism industry only minimally exhibits stories crafted by African-ancestored families about African-ancestored people. Instead, historians and other academicians typically provide site stories about people of African descent. These providers focus on the horrors of slavery and its negative aftermath to boost racial social justice activism, not on ancestral hero stories to foster descendants’ positive ancestral self-identity. By focusing on images of Black carnage, the U.S. heritage tourism industry does not reflect African-ancestored people’s chosen ancestral self-identities. African-ancestored families choose our ancestral self-identities in the stories we select for our published genealogies and in these books as they most attract us to heritage tourism sites. Yet, African-ancestored published genealogies had not yet been studied as a genre to understand how and why African-ancestored genealogy enthusiasts focus on positive ancestral self-identity stories in these books and choose these stories in genealogy tourism. Therefore, to boost African Americans’ well-being by maximizing our chosen ancestral storytelling as part of optimal U.S. genealogy tourism experiences, I implemented a two-part content analysis and application research project. First, I analyzed twenty-three African-ancestored genealogies published in the 21st century to understand how African-ancestored genealogy enthusiasts represent ancestral self-identity in these books. I found that in a three-step process explained by the Agapic Agency Theory, the genealogy authors first heroize ancestors, then learn more about ancestors’ lives, and finally arrive at ancestral home, where descendants retell ancestral stories and songs. Also among my findings is that these books address education as a core cultural value, particularly higher education, and even more particularly higher education at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Second, I applied the findings and heritage tourism literature best practices to establish along with other members of the African-ancestored genealogy enthusiast community the genealogy tourism site and research institute, an ancestral home to celebrate, exhibit, further research, and further produce African-ancestored published genealogies. Others in the academy and elsewhere who work directly for African-ancestored Americans’ intergenerational well-being can utilize my findings to assist in building positive ancestral self-identity through family heritage preservation, research, book publication, song production, and related positive genealogy tourism activities.


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