African Roots Podcast Episode #288 October 10, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well a shout out to folks who are attending two major events—one in Pittsburgh— AAHGS the Afro American Genealogical and Historical Society is hosting the 35th Anniversary conference this weekend. Several photos have been shared from Pittsburgh and are being placed on social media.

Also to the midwest, the Afro-American Genealogy and Historical Society of Chicago is hosting their 32nd Annual conference as well. So shouts out to both groups.


Well, you have until midnight tonight to get in your proposal to present at the Southern California Genealogy Jamb0ree. The deadline was extended through today, the 10th and if you have considered submitting, you still have some time.

More information HERE.



Genealogy Event Scheduled for New York City

The Genealogy event in New York city is being scheduled for October 17th and 18th, which is just a week away. The Genealogy Event, in partnership with The National Archives at New York City (NARA at NYC) is taking place in New York City, October 17 & 18 at the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, One Bowling Green. DNA Day, an added feature of The Genealogy Event is being held at India House, One Hanover Square on October 19. Across the three days attendees will benefit from over fifty genealogy and DNA focused talks, complimentary one on one consultations with genealogy experts, an exhibitor marketplace, a Friday night social event and research opportunities at the National Archives at New York City.


Virtual Genealogy Fair 2014

 Later this month–don’t forget the Virtual Genealogy Fair offered by the National Archives in Washington DC. Take a look at their schedule it is quite detailed. Regardless of background there are presentations that may be of interest to the genealogy community as a whole. Glad to see that this is back on their schedule of events.


So this time of the year brings us to the end of the official conference season, and we are about to wind down for the holidays and to get ready to plan our projects as we physically slow down for the fall and winter months. Hopefully you will now have the time to start on those personal genealogy projects, writing projects, research projects and more. Take the time to go through the many collections that you have amassed and start to see how to allow each project to unfold and to take shape. As we settle into the fall and winter–this is great time to analyze what we have and to determine how our work will be presented and shared.

Virginia Database Expands


Click HERE for database.

An update for those with Virginia ties! The database Unknown No Longer is a resource presented by a collaboration of many people from scholars, historians, genealogists, and the Virginia Historical society to present more and more information containing the records of people once enslaved. Many of us with ties to others states—Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, have ties to Virginia. Well how do we follow those lines and follow them back in time to Virginia? Hopefully databases such as this one will assist us in that effort. Feel free to explore what is there, and what has recently been shared.


We as genealogists have to appreciate the work of historians do and last night on Bernice Bennett’s show, Research at the National Archives and Beyond, her guest explored a unique community and told a story not explored enough. Dr. Amitra Chakrabarhi-Myers who discussed her work, Forging Freedom.

Listen to the show for the content. But then listen also with another ear, which involves the part that insires. For me the inspiration is to find an untold story–from the community of interest. I research Oklahoma among the many places that I study. But as she describe women who lived in pre-emancipation Charleston. I thought about my Oklahoma community and thought about the untold entities. There were free people who lived in the Territory before the Civil War. Not thousands, but several hundred nevertheless. I appreciated the encouragement to look at a region–and find what has not been told. Schools, churches, businesses–all of these are part of the larger historical story.

We have varied stories, from the Carolinas to the Great Plains from the cities to the frontier—but research it, document it, write about it. I was inspired. So tune in a listen to last night’s episode of Research at the National Archives and Beyond. It airs every Thursday night at 9pm.


I have come to realize the need to seriously look at the projects that we begin, and then abandon. When we collect all of this paper—what do we do with it? Do we collect and then finding ourselves then later slave to the clutter? Well clutter is a compilation of delayed decisions. We bring that Civil War pension file home, then put it aside. We collect the data from which we can extract a story. But we forget to complete the project. It might be a piece for our blog, or a chapter in our book, or the book itself. We have to learn how to finish the project as well.

As we look for stories—we must think about the many projects we have started. Each pile of data needs some structure–and then to put in order and then to complete the project.


Well, time as flown by–but thank you for taking time to listen and tune in, and thanks for your announcements. Again a shout out to the conferees at weekend events. Let’s get back to those projects, and lets remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and remember to keep sharing what you find.

African Roots Podcast Episode #287 October 3, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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


Well this is October folks and this is probably the month that also has a large number of events going on—starting with next weekend—conferences, lectures, heritage day celebrations are all taking place. Of course after October things wind down for the holiday season—so we can understand that for sure.


Tomorrow, October 4

Little Rock Group Hosts Research Day

Giving a shout out to folks in Little Rock Arkansas where they will be hosting a Research Day tomorrow. The Arkansas AAHGS  Chapter will host a Research Day on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at the Arkansas History Commission located at #1 Capitol Mall (parking is located in the back of the Capitol turn on Wolfe Street) downtown Little Rock. The event beings at 10:30 am  and will last throughout the day.If you are interested in learning how to trace your family history, and live in that area, you may want to join them!

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Maryland State Archives Family History Festival

And for those in the Mid-Atlantic area, the Maryland State Archives is launching and hosting American Archives Month, during the month of October. and tomorrow, they will be celebrating by hosting a free Family History Festival on Saturday, October 4, 2014 from 10:00am to 4:00pm in Annapolis. 

One of the speakers is a must-hear presenter Robyn Smith! I have heard her presentation on the value of court records—and she will present a session on U sing Court records in Genealogical Research. She is also the host of the blog, “Reclaiming Kin” as well.

The EVENT is free to the public.


Family History Day Workshop in Baltimore

For folks in Baltimore—there will be a big family history day workshop next weekend—October 11th.  The opening keynote is at 8:30 am and of course this family history day will run throughout the day in Stemmers Run in Essex MD. Robert Barnes a retired president of the Maryland Genealogical Society as well as the Baltimore County Genealogical society will be featured opening keynote speaker where he will share the lessons that he has learned as a researcher and as an author.

Another speaker will be Noreen Goodson who is well known for her beginner’s workshops and her work with the Baltimore AAHGS Chapter. The event is free and is sponsored by the the Baltimore stake of the LDS Church.


Two Black Genealogy Conferences Next Weekend!

Now next week—from Pittsburgh to Chicago—folks will be busy. The national AAHGS conference
will unfold from October 9 -12th, and in Chicago, the annual AAGHSC conference will take place the same weekend—10th and 11th. These are two large and very active groups in the African American genealogy community. I have placed links for you—so you can see what is planned for both society experiences. I have had the pleasure of attending the events for both societies and surely I know that participants will walk away inspired and motivated to get back to the projects on hand.

Speaking of projects–once we are motivated to launch a new project, how do you manage them all? You know what we do as researchers is engage ourselves in various genealogy or writing or blogging projects. I have been involved with trying to organize them myself, and what an experience I am having. Perhaps I will try to address the issue of project management in the future. I am learning so much and with the amount of paper that we all produce we are sometimes bogged down with our many projects. And then add conferences and events to them–it takes a different kind of energy to address them.


Incarceration Records for Genealogical Data

Have you ever looked for someone and could not find them, although you know that they were not deceased in a record? Well you may want to consider exploring some amazing and not often mentioned records from the American penal system. Last night on Blog Talk Radio’s program hosted by Bernice Bennett, her guest gave us an earful! Records of prisons, prison dockets and state and federal  data were presented. Sharon Battiste Gillens is an amazing researcher and an excellent presenter anyway. She took us through some amazing data collected on inmates some of which are so filled with details about the lives of those incarcerated, especially in the early 20th century.

She also pointed out that many of the prisoners were not just found in prison records, but were in many cases enumerated in the federal system. We all listed to the story of James Banks, who from the age of 11, was a part of the system that just could not let him go.  Other issues were discussed also such as those cases of peonage—the detaining of men on charges on vagrancy, and them feeding them into a structured work system from which so many could not escape for years. The discussion was well done and truly an enlightening one. Bernice Bennett’s show, Research At the National Archives and Beyond, airs every Thursday evening at 9:00 pm on Blog Talk Radio.


Reflections About Genealogy Television Programs

 Well—-I am sure that you have been reading some of the chatter which has been engaging, about the recent episodes of Finding your Roots. There are some doubts whether data presented to the guests truly reflected what was being said. Yes we saw the female child being presented as a male child, and we also know that being described as “Creole” is a physical description and another person being describes as being “African” is also a physical description—and it is not an indicator of the place of birth of the person whose name appears on the a document. We saw other data where the voice over did not match proven fact and have learned that some assumption were made.

However—there is still so much to appreciate:

1) More are asking questions and looking for answers to family mysteries.

2) Many now appreciate the involvement of family in the genealogical inquiry process.

3) These shows have demonstrated a strong need for standardization of the presentation of genealogical data to recipients. And in the case of African American genealogy—assumptions and generalities and old sayings (such as slaves had no names) must be avoided.

This is a great time to address the issue—for some of the most egregious errors and remarks are a call for others of us in the community to speak, write, teach and lead.

This week several blogs and discussions have occurred also on several genealogy blogs that I share with you here:

1)  Nicka Smith share her feelings in her post, Jumping the Shark with Green Jeter.  She confronts many critical rules that African American family researchers must face–the issues with the mulatto term–which is no guarantee of a bi-racial parentage of each person.

 2) Terry Ligon asks questions and looks at the issues of persons learning about their missing fathers in his piece In Search of Our Fathers. He addresses how such issues should be approached with respect and frankness, as the voids in the lives of the guests are being presented.

3) I also addressed the issues from the first broadcast last week, on my personal blog when Courtney Vance learned the story of his grandmother Ardella Vance. In that piece In Search of Victoria Ardella’s Family, I addressed some of the missed opportunities to provide a platform that transcended the tragedies in a young girl’s life. Editing issues often affect what we see, but we as an inquiring audience and as people whose histories are on the same historic landscape have the right to have the story told differently. Yes the medium of television often features the salacious stories–but then again–some of these are coming through a portal that is considered the least salacious in structure–PBS! So I felt compelled to take Ardella’s story to another place and to say her mother’s name.

I hope that others will write and share their thoughts as well. Are we up to that task?

I shall leave that question unanswered and hope that you will think about it and perhaps we can collaborate in ways to see that our stories are told, and told with respect and dignity, and told without assumptions. We can do this!


Thank you all for listening and know that you are appreciated. In the meantime, remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find.