Ricki King

ProGen Member Overview

Ricki King is a 2015 certificate holder in Boston University's Genealogical Research program, holds a BA in History from Drake University, completed Progen, and attended several genealogy institutes. She is passionate about providing opportunities and resources to inspire and support current genealogists and the next generation. She is the founder of Roots to Branches Genealogy, LLC, author of "A Father's [Lynching? Murder?] Provides A Possible Motive for an African American Woman's use of Multiple Maiden Names," which ran in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Volume 109, No. 1, (March 2021) and a webinar presenter for the Iowa History 101 Series: "Iowa's Black Migration: Into, Around, Out of, and Back Again, and "Forever Free: Rediscovering Heroes, Heroines & Helpers of Central Iowa's Underground Railroad." She presents Pre-Beginning Genealogy lectures at local public libraries. Ricki's genealogy enthusiasm started while working for thirty-one years at John Deere Financial, from where she retired in 2019 to pursue her genealogy passion full time.

As of 5 January 2022, Ricki took office as a member voted in Director with the Association of Professional Genealogists, an international group. As of 2021, Ricki is the Vice President of the Iowa Historical Foundation, which works with the State Historical Society of Iowa.

In the Spring and Summer of 2021, during COVID, Ricki worked with the Forever Free Mentoring Pilot Program, mentoring a high school and a college student, helping to research twenty-two people possibly buried at Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines, Iowa. The persons examined were known to have helped or used the underground railroad as freedom seekers. Some freedom seekers also served in Iowa's 60th Colored infantry during the Civil War.

Ricki working with local, state, and federal agencies to preserve history, submitted their application on fifteen individuals to the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. As a result, an announcement was made on 30 September 2021 that Woodland cemetery is accepted into the Network. In addition, History Quest, a separate program involving Woodland cemetery. Ricki recorded videos containing the UGRR research used in the application, which will play once a QR code next to a headstone is scanned.

While volunteering as a death certificate indexer with the State Historical Society of Iowa, Library (SHSI), and Archives Research Center, she noticed fetal death records were forever closed. Ricki's zeal and dedication have benefited the genealogy community with her two years of lobbying the state legislature to change Iowa law on access to fetal death records. Finally, her follow-through opened all Iowa death records after 50 years. She continues her work to help all genealogists and historians by serving as Vice President on the SHSI Iowa Historical Foundation Board and volunteering.

In 2020 Ricki ran for President of the United States on the Iowa ballot, making history as the first Black person born and raised in Iowa to run. She did this while promoting genealogy by naming her party Genealogy Know Your Family History Party. Thus, every time her accomplishment is mentioned, her party's unusual name will also be. In her spare time, she is researching 333 Blacks living in Iowa on the 1850 United States federal census, following them through to the 1900 United States federal census.


Academic Education
Bachelor of Arts, History; Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, 2005.
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication; Drake University, Iowa, 2005.

Continuing Education
Boston University, Center for Professional Education: Genealogical Research Certificate, 2015.
Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy, Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Academy for Professionals, 2021.
Beyond Fundamentals: Hands-on Forensic Genealogy, Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, 2021.
Midwest African American Genealogy Institute, 2020.
Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society Conference, 2020.
Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, 2020.
PI Education, 2020.
Preserve Iowa Summit, 2020.
Association of Professional Genealogists: Professional Management Conference, 2018.
ProGen Study Program, 2016-2017.
Iowa Genealogical Society Conferences, 2003-2019.
Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, 2015.
National Genealogical Society Conference, 2013, 2020.


In 2018 Ricki was instrumental in changing when death certificates and fetal death records could be accessed in Iowa. She requested the state legislature change the law in 2016. Because of her follow through the law was changed to open fetal death records to the public after 50 years where before there was no date allowing them to be opened. She also was able to change the access on all death records from 75 years to the current 50 years.

"Ricki is always finding ways to improve searches and gain information for all genealogists-her sparkling personality and smile make her a joy to be around, plus she does know her stuff! -Jay Carollo"

"We have been very pleased with the work performed on our family heritage by Ricki King, she is very responsive and through in her analysis. Her work has taken my family lineage to 1780s with still the opportunity to potential go further back. Her extensive years in genealogy is evident in her performance. I would strongly recommend you consider her for your genealogy investigation. -T.A. Chandler"

"I asked Ricki to use her Genealogy knowledge and skills to help me solve a few family mysteries. After prioritizing my list and agreeing on a budget, Ricki went to work. She was ultimately able to find information I never could and interpret it to answer several questions for our family. While the related documentation can be a bit overwhelming, Ricki interpreted it and also provided a narrative that I could use and share with the rest of my family. Ricki s love of genealogy is evident when you talk with her and I would definitely work with her again! -Linda O'Toole"

Professional Memberships/Affiliations
Iowa Historical Foundation Board, Vice President
Association of Professional Genealogists, Director
National Genealogical Society, Member.
State Historical Society of Iowa, Member.
Iowa Genealogical Society, Member.
Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc., Member.
Albemarle Charlottesville (Virginia) Historical Society, Member.
Seattle Genealogical Society, Member.
Utah Genealogical Association, Member.
Fort Des Moines Museum and Education Center, Past Board Secretary.
Iowa Civil War 150th Celebration, Advisory Committee.
Targeted Small Business, Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Various volunteer activities.

Publications & BLOGs

King, Ricki. "A Father's [Lynching? Murder?] Provides A Possible Motive for an African American Woman's use of Multiple Maiden Names." National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Volume 109, No. 1, (March 2021): 29-44.
King, Ricki. "Women and the 1925 Iowa State Census," WOW Women of Worth April-May 2020.
King, Ricki. "Women of Three Generations," The Urban Experience October 2018.
BLOG: Long Ago Community news from Iowa newspapers and current news about history across the country.