African Roots Podcast Episode # 275 July 11, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast!  You can reach me, at

What an incredible week! Today, I am coming to you today from that wonderful city on the banks of the Mississippi River, St. Louis Missouri. And as some of you know, I have been here the past several days attending the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute. 

There are no words to describe this week’s experience except that it was a success in so many ways! The four tracks unfolded and the participants were challenged by the instructors and the instructors were stimulated by the myriad of excellent questions and were equally impressed by the talent and skills brought to the institute by the participants.

So many things stood out this week, and as many of you will be watching the threads and looking at the photos and videos as they will be appearing in social media and likewise on a number of blogs, the spirit and energy of MAAGI will be evident.

For me, the most incredible part of the week was to see how much effort that the participants themselves took on the challenges presented to them, and how hard they worked outside of class. This was exemplified Wednesday evening, when a group of participants had an impromptu study group and were engaged in a 4 hour study group back at the hotel.



This group worked until after midnight and somehow they were still back at class promptly at 8:30 the next morning for classes.

But a magical moment occurred when a member of the group Gary Franklin shared his timeline, and mentioned a family to which his family was connected. At that moment, Renate Sanders Yarborough Sanders recognized the name and place. Yes, it was one of those moments where the ancestors must have been smiling down upon them both. Not only was there a connection made, it appears that incredible information was shared about the slave holding family, their records and the descendants of the slave holding family. Renate, has a blood tie to the slave holding family, and has been communicating with one of the descendants of that family. Well, as the magical moment continued, the descendant happened to have phoned Renate, and she was able to allow Gary to speak with her, and Gary heard the names of his ancestors read to him and confirmed many pieces of information that were said to have only been oral history.

Both Renate and Gary are guests on the show this today, and you will have to hear them tell their story themselves. To hear this story is to appreciate that sometimes, things are meant to happen. These are two people who never knew each other, do not live in the same state, and whose lives might have never crossed, but they did cross in St. Louis, and an amazing connection was made.  There is much more to this incredible story that I am sure that they will begin to tell themselves and all of us will be listening to hear more.

To say that MAAGI was a successful event is a mild statement. It is hoped that future institutes will be equally as intense, equally as dynamic, and equally as revealing. It has been an honor to have been a member of the faculty and to have been exposed to the talent and enthusiasm of the group, and I am grateful to have had the exposure to the talents of everyone whom I met in St. Louis.  I hope that the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute in St. Louis, will have a bright and successful future.

African Roots Podcast Episode #274 July 4, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast! You can reach me at

Well Happy 4th of July! I hope you are well into the holiday weekend, and that you will be enjoying yourself with the family, and cookouts. Do be careful with the fireworks, though. Better yet—why not go and watch the professional fireworks displays. They are always a pleasure to watch. So relax, enjoy family and friends, eats some good food,  and make some memories. Pull out the camera and have a great time!


A quick shout out goes to the folks in Charleston SC, who will be participating in the History Fair at Magnolia Gardens tomorrow. Thos with ties to the African American communities of the Low Country, especially in the Charleston area are strongly invited to come! This is a great chance to get some free genealogy advice from two well respected genealogists, Toni Carrier, and Ramona laRoche. This will take place at Magnolia Gardens from 9 am to 4 pm tomorrow.


Yesterday I had a chance to meet two folks from the Digital Maryland project. They have already put up several hundred African American Funeral Programs collection. They can always use volunteers and if you are interested in working with these folks who are putting up information to make it accessible to a wider range of people.



Out of Philadelphia more than 1000 digitized images of interest to African American researches can now be found on the website of the Philadelphia Public Library. Over 1000 digitized images will provide some rare glimpses into the lives of African Americans.

The Philadelphia Library Company has been collecting images since its founding by Benjamin Franklin in 1731, and scholars began collecting photographs, political cartoons and drawings for its African Americana collection in the late 1960s.
Read more HERE

From their website:

“Created from the Library Company’s acclaimed Afro-Americana Collection—an accumulation that began with Benjamin Franklin and steadily increased throughout its entire history—this unique online resource will provide researchers with more than 12,000 printed works. These essential books, pamphlets and broadsides, including many lesser-known imprints, hold an unparalleled record of African American history, literature and culture. This digital edition of one of the world’s preeminent collections for African American studies is available as a single complete collection, or in one or more of ten cohesive modules, organized by historic era.”


Last week I mentioned the History Makers project has now been preserved on a larger scale. Well this week I learned a lot more about it and was most impressed with the origin of the project—the effort of Juliana Richardson. This tells us what one single person can do. This is the largest collection of  interviews since the WPA slave narratives, and what a lesson for us all to pull out our cameras and to start with our own individual circle of friends family, and friends of the family and much more. Juliana Richardson is an inspiration and we can emulate her work. Her single effort has put so much more of this history on the historical map in a new way! Let’s learn from her lesson.


Do you have ancestors in Oregon or who moved west? There is an effort now to preserve Black history of Oregon, and the state’s preservation office is interested in learning more about the Black pioneers. This effort is covering the years from 1844 to 1984—so that’s a 140 year span. The goal is to Oregon Black Pioneers says it’s ultimate goal is to nominate significant African-American historic sites to the National Register of Historic Places.

I just learned about this which was just announced this week, so hopefully the word will spread about this noteworthy project. More can be learned HERE. 


Don’t forget that if you don’t have access to Ancestry, you will have full access till June 6th, so take advantage and see what you find!


Old Cawhawba Alabama is celebrating it’s history.  At one time, about 65% of the community was Black and though the history of the county for many years never reflected the majority population, the city is now celebrating this fascinating past. And their past is a very rich one. There are many historic sites in the area, plus of course the old estates and plantations were filled with untold stories of the thousands of slaves who once worked the land. The people and the county are now acknowledging this overlooked history, and I urge you to see what they are doing in that part of Alabama.

Old Cahawba Black History



Well it is the 4th of July yes. And in 3 days—-it is time for MAAGI!!!!! That’s right the MIDWEST AFRICAN AMERICAN GENEALOGY INSTITUTE, is here! And yes, I am a wee bit excited!!!

And if you are curious and don’t know about MAAGI, take a look at the website.  And check out the speakers!


I know some of you will be attending a Family Reunion this weekend, and many of you are also planning reunions. Well if you are a planner, tune in to last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show, Research at the National Archives and Beyond. Last night her guest was Callian Jenkins. Ms. Jenkins gave good advice and tips on how to not only organize a reunion, but also how to avoid mistakes as well. She herself organized a very large reunion event in Maryland, and as a result, she has lots of tips for other planners. You can download the show, and you can always hear Ms. Bennett’s show every Thursday evening at 9pm on Blog Talk Radio.


Well, everyone have a great holiday–take pictures and turn today’s even into something to document. Remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and to keep sharing what you find.

Meet me in St. Louis!

* * * * *