Friday, August 12, 2011


From Genealogy Gems: News from the Fort Wayne Library No. 89, July 31, 2011

National Black Genealogy Summit

The National Black Genealogy Summit will take place in Fort Wayne, Indiana, October 20-22, 2011, at the Allen County Public Library and the Grand Wayne Convention Center. It quite likely will be the best event for those interested in exploring African American family history since a similar summit took place in Fort Wayne in October of 2009. An information-rich website, continually being updated with the very latest information about the event, can be found here.

Hosted by the Allen County Public Library and its Foundation, as well as the African American Genealogical Society of Fort Wayne, this event has so many outstanding features that it simply begs one to participate.

October 20th is the pre-conference day, and is open to all at no charge. The programs on this day will focus on the foundations of genealogical research, family health history, and a librarians’ track. If you’re new to genealogical research, you really will want to take advantage of this free day. If you’re a more experienced researcher, you may find great value in learning different approaches, discovering new sources, and networking with those working in the same geographic area and time period as you.

Friday and Saturday, October 21st and 22nd, some of the very best presenters and researchers of African American genealogy will give engaging, information-rich lectures on timely topics. Tony Burroughs will be speaking on the use of land records and genealogy in the electronic age; Tim Pinnick will present four sessions over the two days including African Americans in the GAR, studying the family history of an African American community, and a couple on “tips and strategies;” and Angela Walton-Raji will offer sessions on finding Native Americans in African American families, using the records of secret societies, documenting soldiers and those still enslaved during the Civil War, and reconstruction era research. And those are just three of the presenters! We will highlight another group of presenters in next month’s ezine, but you can see all the speakers and all the sessions here.

The plenary sessions, on Friday and Saturday of the Summit, are definitely events you do not want to miss. Friday’s plenary session, sponsored by ProQuest, Inc. (the creators of “Heritage Quest Online” and “African American Heritage”), features Carla Peterson, author of the award-winning book “Black Gotham, A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.” Her talk, “What’s Under the Dust? Recovering Family History from the Archives,” will emphasize the importance of not just collecting the names, dates, and places relating to our ancestors but really getting the stories of their lives. Ms. Peterson is an engaging speaker, as well as a brilliant writer. Saturday’s plenary session, sponsored by the Friends of the Allen County Public Library, features an amazing artist, Michele Wood, sharing “Not To Be Forgotten: One Artist’s Journey of ‘Going Back Home.’” Ms. Wood has won numerous awards for her illustrations of children’s books. Her work will immediately draw you in with its color, life, and symbolism. A large number of her best pieces will be on display during the Summit in the library’s Jeffrey R. Krull gallery. Her presentation is a must-hear; her exhibit is a must-see.

All three days of the Summit will feature health screenings and opportunities to do research in The Genealogy Center. Register today, and bring a friend with you. The registration form is here.

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