Monthly Archives: April 2010

African Roots Podcast #57 April 30, 2010

This Week's Pod Cast


Hello and welcome back. Today is Friday April 30, 2010 My name is Angela Walton-Raji and this is the African Roots Podcast. You can always reach me at

Greetings to everyone enjoying themselves in Salt Lake City this week at the NGS Conference. I hope everyone out there, is having a good time. I have read some of the blogs and have enjoyed them, so please bloggers keep it up as you are our eyes and ears.

Tomorrow May 1st, I am preparing for a presentation at the Smithsonian American Indian Museum in New York City. Gustave Heye Center, at 1 Bowling Green Place, in Manhattan. I am looking forward to the event and this will be the first time I will speak in New York, so I am excited about that.

This is a busy time as events are piling up quickly—-

Samford is coming up—a solid week of genealogy. I am referring to the Samford Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research. This will be the first time for me and I am quite thrilled to attend. There will be so much to learn.

I came across an interesting site which provides a wonderful database for researchers: This site is for those who have an interest in Liberia and those who emigrated from the US to Liberia.
The site is callled Liberian Repatriates. The site also contains data on more than 15,000+ African-Americans who emigrated to Liberia between 1820 and 1904 are now only a mouseclick away. This site should prove a boon to scholars and genealogists on both sides of the Atlantic, according to its founder, Prof. C. Patrick Burrowes of Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg. I know that several thousand emigrants to Liberia left Arkansas and this should prove to be a very interesting site for those exploring history from a different perspective.

I wanted to make a notation that I have learned so much in this past year, and have been exposed to a number of new people, new places, new resources and new methods of obtaining information. This has come through contact with people who have become listeners to my podcast, but have also become persons from whom I have learned a lot by merely following them and interacting with them in the social media.

I use Twitter quite often a social networking site, that I use mostly for genealogy. A majority of the people whom I follow are other genealogists, who tweet about their own projects, blogs, travels, genealogical findings.

This has opened many doors for me as a researcher, and also just as one who enjoys reading as well as writing. I have found others who have thrived by creating their own genealogical community on sites like Facebook, and I have also learned a lot from them. One neat thing with Facebook, you can join other communities and post images and share interests. I have really learned the value of seeing what is going on in the larger community.

Interestingly many of the people that I have met in the past year have been individuals whom I might not have met at an annual conference, because there had not been any kind of genealogical connection, nor had their been any kind of personal interaction. However, I know now that I will go out of my way to actually look for people in the future at events.

Most significantly I have learned the value of blogging—a concept that has taken me over a year to wrap my head around. I have never understood why one would put up a “diary” online for all of the world to see. I had no desire to go public with my private thoughts, endeavors, projects. I did notice however, that I was gaining so much knowledge by reading the accomplishments that others were making as they were reaching, and I loved reading the stories about how the found what they found. I realized—I have stories too. I record the stories and data about my ancestors, and have dusted them off for family gatherings, but there were also other lessons to be learned —- that could be shared with a wider audience. And the surprise for me—–I began to think—-I could make a blog.

Thanks to people who have encouraged me to do so, I have some to appreciate that a blog can be anything. Blogs go beyond some notation of the day to day mundance activities. The blogs that I follow hold no such trivia. I began to follow those who were telling not only the stories of their families, but also the story of their story. They began to tell HOW they were able to craft their stories, how data was presented to them, HOW they constructed the solution to genealogical problems, and more importantly, they have shared what they have found in wonderful ways. This has taught me so many lessons. These days with technology—we have many opportunities to present our own stories in many ways to our families and to the community at large.

We need to open ourselves to new methods of presenting this story to the word. There are some new communities that are there for us to explore and hopefully more from the Afr. Am genealogy community will join this community and more from outside the community will read our blogs and join us in the quest that we all share—to tell the stories of our ancestors.

I have seen this emerge this year with the creation of A Friend of Friends, and I am seeing others who were early on bloggers, emerge into roles of assisting others to come into the community as well.

Some blogs I enjoy:
A Friend of Friends
Our Georgia Roots
Find Your Folks
Mariah’s Zephyr

My new blogs:
African-Native American Blog
My Ancestor’s Name

This is such an interesting time in which we are blessed to live.

That’s it for this week, folks, and thanks for listening again. Please keep doing what you do–
keep researching
keep documenting
& keep sharing what you find.

(For earlier podcasts, click on the date of that episode.)

African Roots Podcast #56 April 23, 2010

This Week's Pod Cast


Hello and welcome back!
Today is Friday April 23, 2010
My name is Angela Walton-Raji and this is the African Roots Podcast.

Spring is in full bloom and hopefully you are all getting ready to attend a number of exciting workshops, conferences, and institutes. Best wishes to everyone on the way to Salt Lake City for the NGS Conference. Of course many are saving their spending money for the California Jamboree in June, and others of us for institutes taking place later in the summer.

If you are in or near Washington DC join the Central MD chapter of AAHGS as they have an in-depth tour of the National Archives. Claire Kluskens one of the archivists will be speaking and will give an over view to the participants. One of the highlights will be a complete case study of an African American family. She will highlight a variety of records that can be used to follow this family back in time. The session is free and will begin at 10:00 a.m.

I am looking forward to seeing folks in New York City next weekend. I will be speaking at the Gustave Heye Center in New York City at 1 pm. The lecture is free. My focus will be researching Blended Families—African-Native American families.

Coming out of Texas:
I have had a great time this week looking at some unique digitization projects that are underway. The state of Texas has some very impressive sites and the various counties are also making their public records easy to access.

Texas Birth Records at Footnote. Many of us know about the Death record but there is now word that birth records are available as well on Footnote.
Texas Birth Certificates 1903-1910 & 1926-1929 Online at Footnote (indexed) (this database is not yet complete; more records are being added – so far more than 350,000 birth certificates have been digitized and put online). Now official copies can be requested online for a fee.

For those with San Antonio ties, take a look at what is available from that area. There is a site that is called land data. All kinds of information is there, and it is so easy to access and what is great is that one can see the actual images. Coming from the County Clerk’s office in San Antonio The document images can be printed and downloaded free of charge. These features are available to better serve the public, who depend on access to this information. Using the site is easy and free and all one has to do is simply register to access the site. Registration information includes a username and password (selected by the user) and a valid email address to activate the account.

Researchers from Dallas and also El Paso are will find this information useful.
Dallas Land Records But don’t let the term land records mislead you. Marriage records also reside on this link. Marriage records 1964- Present.

El Paso County TX
El Paso County Marriage Records Search 1963-current also has birth & death records searches

I almost forgot to mention another event for you: The Baltimore African American genealogical society is hosting Saturday, May 1, 11 a.m. “Picturing African American Community History in Maryland” This is a lecture & book signing. The Lakeland Community Heritage Project of College Park and William Poe of Calvert County explore two new photo history books Lakeland: African Americans in College Park and African Americans of Calvert County. This is the May meeting of the Agnes Kane Callum Chapter of the Baltimore Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (BAAGHS). Museum admission required. BAAGHS members $5. For more information call 443-263-1816.

Some questions for you: How prepared are you as you conduct your research? Have you considered taking a course for formal training ? Classes, seminars, institutes, and college level classes to teach the basic methods are available, and have you taken many, or any? Don’t just follow someone who has simply hung up a shingle—-get yourself trained as well.

A number of people have arisen in recent years, with no sound training, no certification, nor formal back-ground in African American research, yet have emerged as experts in the field. On the other hand there are people who have asserted themselves, and immersed themselves in records for years, but are not giving back. Hopefully there is a mid point in which others will also look at the need at some point to share, to teach, to enlighten and to strengthen the community.

This is an interesting time in which many people can hang up a sign, create a website, cut and paste articles from any number of sources and become expert. But are they? As consumers we must read the fine print on the label, well we should look at the training and the record of the one who is presenting information to us.

If you receive info from one who specializes in your area, yet has never lived there, never interacted with people from there, and in fact, will speak every other places except where that state is—it might be considered somewhat suspect. As one who seeks to sharpen his or her skills, it would be wise to learn where and how this person has emerged as a specialist in that area.

Other areas of genealogy are similar. If one is an African American specialist, they do not have to be African American, but one would hope that their genealogical training has been in that area, their association has been in that area, some exposure to the community has taken place, and that there is no general discomfort around African American people. To simply put up a sign, because one has declared themselves an expert, does not mean that you as a researcher have to follow. Again their history and record and affiliation should provide the evidence of their degree of competence.

At the other end of the spectrum is the need for more of us, also to begin to look at ourselves, and to share the wisdom that has been acquired. This is the time now to teach others, to present the treasures that you have been storing for many years. It is time that others learn from you—the researcher with 10 years, 12, 15 years under your belt. I often see the same people at conferences, and I know they have so much to share with others who are just learning. Just as you should not accept the self appointed gurus, when you have been researching for 10 + years, it is time to share your strategy to those who are just beginning their genealogical journey.

Well thank you again for listening. Have a great week, and remember, keep doing what you are doing—-
Keep researching, keep documenting and please, keep sharing what you find.

(For previous episodes simply click on the data of that episode to hear the podcast.)