Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Genealogy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

One would think in the Cyber Age, it would be easy to find a rather complete genealogical study of an historic figure like Martin Luther King, Jr. Turns out, that's not the case. There are sources that identify Dr. King's parents and grandparents, but few go beyond that. has a "Famous Family Tree" that goes back to King's great-grandparents. ( has transcribed the 1930 census of Fulton County, Georgia, to include the family of “Marvin L. King,” with son “Marvin L., Jr.” At first I shook my head in amazement over this; but upon an examination of the image of the sheet, the transcription may be accurate. See below).’s WorldConnect Family Tree Project has one posting for Martin Luther King, Jr., that seems fairly close to the generally known facts of Dr. King’s family history. This tree was updated on December 31, 2006.

Click on these images to see how Martin Luther King, Jr. , was enumerated on 1930 census. Did the enumerator get it wrong or did transcribe it incorrectly? (Images Copyright (c) MyFamily, Inc.)

The most extensive on-line source that I found concerning the genealogy of Martin Luther King, Jr. is on a rather spare, somewhat peculiar site called WARGS. This site is owned by one William Addams Reitwiesner (“WARGS” is an acronym for “William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services”). Reitwiesner is a genealogist who specializes in celebrities, politicians, and historical figures. Reitwiesner traces Dr. King’s maternal line back six generations.

The Reitwiesner work is based largely on census records and such. It is not extensively documented, as Reitwiesner candidly admits. However, it does seem consistent with known and demonstrable facts.

Next: Finding Dr. King's Roots in Slavery

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