How Did American Author Alex Haley Trace His African Ancestry and History?

Alex Haley, the renowned American author, is best known for his work in tracing his African ancestry and history. His book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which was published in 1976, quickly became a bestseller and a cultural phenomenon. The book was turned into a mini-series that aired on television in 1977, which further increased its popularity.

The Beginning
Haley’s journey to trace his ancestry began when he was a child. His grandmother would tell him stories about their family’s past and how they were descendants of Kunta Kinte, an African man who was brought to America as a slave. These stories inspired Haley to begin researching his family history.

The Research
Haley spent over a decade researching his family history by traveling to different parts of the world and interviewing family members. He also utilized various resources such as birth and death records, census data, and historical documents.

The Discovery
Haley’s research led him to a small village in Gambia where he discovered the oral history of the Mandinka people. He learned that Kunta Kinte was indeed a real person who lived in the late 18th century and was captured by slave traders and brought to America.

The Legacy
The impact of Haley’s work cannot be overstated. Roots sparked a renewed interest in genealogy and African American history. It also helped to promote awareness about slavery and its lasting impact on American society.

  • Haley won numerous awards for his work including the Pulitzer Prize.
  • He passed away in 1992 but his legacy lives on through Roots.
  • Today, there are many organizations dedicated to helping people trace their ancestry such as which has been used by millions worldwide.


Alex Haley’s journey to trace his African ancestry and history is a testament to the power of perseverance and the importance of understanding one’s roots. His work has inspired many to explore their own family histories and has helped to create a greater understanding of the African American experience. Roots will forever be remembered as a groundbreaking work that changed the way we view our past and our future.