My 2016 book, A Guide to Researching African American Ancestors in Laurens County, SC, and Selected Finding Aids, is available on,, and An e-book is also available. A 20 November 2016 review in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution provides a great overview of how the book can be useful to researchers in other SC counties and others states: "African-American research guide is a model for others." The review in the Summer 2017 issue of the South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research noted that "this work is highly recommended as a  guide for research." This book was also favorably reviewed in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (December 2017), and named as a  Finalist in the African American category of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. (Please view the Errata Sheet at this link for pre-February 2018 printings.)


I authored and privately published three editions of my family history, including a revised third edition in 2008.

The last revised edition is entitled The Source: The Garrett Neely, and Sullivan Families: Over Two Hundred Years of African American History, Beginning in Laurens County, South Carolina.

I also wrote a 2010 Supplement to the revised edition.


Church Histories

I served as the editor and principal writer of two Church histories that document the involvement of families that organized them:

  • Historical Book of Bethel Hall Missionary Baptist Church, Laurens, South Carolina, 1910-2010
  • Macedonia Baptist Church, Bethesda, Maryland, 1920-2011: A History of the Little Church on the Hill.


Articles and Blog Posts

​"The Freedman Richard Neely: One Family's American Beginning," 2017 Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (Vol. 34, page 62).
"Genealogy Ethics and the Call For Diversity," was published in the January 2017 issue of OnBoard, the newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
A 2015 Blog post entitled "Some Thoughts on the Process that Resulted in my Successful Application for BCG's Certified Genealogist(R) Credential: My Genealogical Education" was re-published in the 2016 issue (Vol. 37, pages 33-36) of the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.
Book Review: "The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome" was published in the December 2016 issue (Vol. 104, No. 4, page 311) of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.
"Resolving a Modern Genealogical Problem: What was Rainey Nelson's Birth Name?" was published in the September 2016 issue (Vol. 104, No. 3, pages 203-213) of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly
"Searching for the Slave Owners of Isaac Garrett: Expanding Research Beyond Online Sources" was published in the June 2014 issue of Columns, the quarterly publication of the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors.
"Diverse  Communities: Researching African American Families that Came Out of Slavery," Board for Certification of Genealogists Blog, BCG Springboard: News and Notes, 5 January 2016.
Garrett-Nelson, LaBrenda, "Bethel Hall Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery,"  The Tree Climber, Laurens District Chapter, South Carolina Genealogical Society 29 (Winter 2014) 42.
Copies of the books mentioned on this page can be found in the Library of Congress; copies of the third edition of my family history and 2010 Supplement can also be viewed in various other repositories around the United States, including the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, College of Charleston, South Carolina; the Genealogical Society of Utah; Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library; both the South Carolina State Archives and the Richland County Public Library in Columbia, South Carolina; the Laurens County, South Carolina Library; The Charles L. Blockson African American Collection at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the W.E.B. DuBois Institute of Harvard University.