Angela Y. Walton-Raji on July 10th, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Greetings everyone from the lovely city of St. Louis Missouri! I am coming to you from the campus of Harris-Stowe State University in the lovely city of St. Louis Missouri, which lies on the banks of the Mississippi River! That’s right I am here in St. Louis for MAAGI, the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute!

And—-I have some wonderful guests lined up for you to hear share their experiences with you. I have 6 guests from the Writer’s Track here at MAAGI, and they have graciously agreed to share their opinions with you about their experience

Dr. Shirley Greene, Toledo Ohio
MAAGI 2015 Shirley Greene

My first guest is Dr. Shirley Greene from Toledo. She is focusing on a paternal line and free men of color who were revolultionary soldiers. She hopes that by August of 2016 that she will have something in writing. She has enjoyed the writer’s track, and has come to understand and become more informed  about the options for writers that are available. She is not a first time attendee, as she attended MAAGI two years ago, and came back again this year. Dr. Greene is also a historian and works to engage the students through emphasis of the stories.


Faye Sigers, Austin TexasMAAGI 2015 Faye Sigers

Secondly we welcomed Faye Sigers who came to MAAGI this year from Austin Texas.  She described her ancestors from Alabama and Mississippi. She is also a member of the Chicago AAGHSC as well. She appreciated getting ideas from other people, and how to get her own story told. She enjoys reading blogs and she has been told to tell more of her own stories. She found that MAAGI inspired her level of confidence.


Sandra Cowan-Dorton

MAAGI 2015 Sandra Dorton

Sandra Cowan-Dorton is a native of St. Louis and she is here to share her experience of having attended MAAGI and the writing track. She has a fascinating family history background that you will want to hear more about. MAAGI exceeded her expectations. She has a unique story to tell. She has an interesting story of discovery of your own family. When she was in her 30’s, she learned that her grandparents were passing, and came northward on the Great Migration. This revelation had a major impact on her life, and her goal is to write about the family history and share it with others.

Dr. Shelley Murphy

MAAGI 2015 Shelley Murphy

Dr. Shelley Murphy is one of the members of the faculty, and she is involved in the Strategies and Methods class. As the creator of the “So What” concept, she is one of the critical must go-to classes. She shares her perspective about teaching at MAAGI. She discusses

Linda M. Simms

MAAGI 2015 Linda Simms

Linda M. Simms a recent blogger really dove into the writing class and has a strong interest in writing a book about her family. A native of St. Louis. MAAGI exceeded her expectations. She learned techniques on blogging, and she is interested in enhancing her blog where she documents her family based in Mississippi. She strongly recommends the MAAGI experience. She has been a genealogist for over 25 years and hopes to take advantage of her experience and document it in her family book.

Tracey Hughes

Tracey Hughes

Tracey Hughes, is one of the “founding participants” in MAAGI. She resides in Kansas City and shared her sentiments about this third year experience. She described how she introduces her readers to her ancestors. The writing track has given  her several ideas on how she will enhance her writing, and get herself on a calendar to produce a publication within the following year.

It was a pleasure to speak to those MAAGI participants who were so enthusiastic about what they experienced here. Ihope that next year that many new listeners will want to explore the experience of an institute.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on July 3rd, 2015

This Week's Pod Cast

Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast! I can be reached at

4th of July

It is the 4th of July weekend, and I hope that you are getting ready for the time to be spent with family and friends, and are preparing for a wonderful time to make memories! Do be careful as fireworks are going on and please be safe especially with children. I am ready for the weekend, but also getting ready to travel to St. Louis, Missouri next week for MAAGI, the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute. We have an exciting week that is planned and we are all quite excited! This is the third year for MAAGI and popularity for this event is growing. We are even being asked to bring the program on the road! That is something we never imagined and the response has been so positive. Those in the Methods and Strategies track will learn about Dr. Murphy’s “So What” concept! And those who have thought about writing since their research started, the Writing Track will allow people to learn about the many options available to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and to produce something about the research journey! So take a look at the MAAGI line up and perhaps next year MAAGI might be in your plans!


Of course many of us will be looking forward to the AAHGS conference in October in Richmond Virginia. Of course Virginia is where so much of the nation’s history began and the opportunity to go a few days early and conduct some research is quite exciting.

                                                            Discover Freedmen

Are you involved in the indexing project for the Freedmen’s Bureau records? I am speaking about the records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands? I am talking about the indexing initiative launched a few days ago, by Family Search. These records are amazing, and to see them, there are two sites. One is Family Search, and the other site is the Internet Archive. On the Internet Archive I recommend that you type the following words in the search box, to get to your state: “Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands for the state of ____(insert state name)___. On that site, the first 50 pages are so, consist of the Descriptive Pamphlet, that you need to know. The pamphlet will be your guide.

On Family Search, simply go to your state of interest, and click on the bureau records. But keep in mind these are not microfilmed records. But study them anyway. Many of them are not indexed, and you are strongly urged to participate in that initiative. And of course that brings me to the indexing project in general. We need to get them indexed–and your help is needed.

I have found my ancestors, and yes, many of these records are sobering. I have found my gr. grandfather, and I see that at first he was not paid a salary, but was going to receive board, clothing and food rations. But no money. Thankfully that changed within several years, and he later became a land owner himself and he became a homesteader as did his son, Irving. I wrote an article about my find.
You might find that after the war, the newly freed people were placed in the share cropping system, which became a new version of the same thing.

Speaking of involuntary labor, last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show featured Antoinette Harrell, who spoke about 20th century peonage. This was a system of involuntary labor that lasted well into the 20th century. She has spen many years exploring this terrible studying this system. She has even met people trapped in the system well into the second half of the century as well.

Well, I know many of you are in a pre-reunion time. Please remember to tell the story, not just the facts and names. Tell the stories of how the family survived, the stories of their resilience. Reunions are more than good food, and enjoying the music. Make sure the family legacy is preserved.

Well, I am winding it down this week, as I prepare to journey to St. Louis. Have a great week, make some good memories. And remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find!