National Genealogical Society
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James Dent Walker [1928-1993]


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James Dent Walker
Elected to National Genealogy Hall of Fame

James Dent Walker (9 June 1928-6 October 1993), of Washington, D.C., has become the fourteenth distinguished genealogist of the past to be honored by election to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame. The public announcement of his election was made on 14 May1999 at the National Genealogical Society's Conference in the States in Richmond, Virginia.

Mr. Walker, FNGS, was nominated by the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (National), Washington, D.C, the Prince George's County, Maryland, Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, the District of Columbia Genealogical Society, the Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago, and the International Society of Sons & Daughters of Slave Ancestry. The Federation of Genealogical Societies endorsed his nomination.

There were other distinguished nominees: Charles Thornton Libby, of Yarmouth, Maine, was nominated by the John Libby Family Association/the Libby Homestead Corporation. Mrs. Hannah Denner Roach, FASG, FGSP was nominated by the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Gladys Sauer Muller was nominated by the Whittier Area Genealogy Society of Whittier, California. The California State Genealogical Alliance endorsed her nomination. These most worthy nominees are eligible for renomination in future elections.

James Walker will be long remembered for his outstanding participation in the formation of an active and viable Afro-American genealogical community. He was the founder and a president of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (National), which, in 1999, has twenty-three chapters throughout the United States. He was also the founder and a president of the District of Columbia Genealogical Society. He wrote and lectured extensively on black genealogy.

James Walker served as a Surveyor, 2d Class, in the U.S. Navy from 1947 to 1951 and participated in the amphibious landing at Inchon, South Korea, when Allied troops landed behind the enemy lines on 15 September 1950. He was a member of the Seabees (U.S. Navy construction battalions). He was employed for thirty years at the National Archives and Records Administration. During that time he served as a genealogist, research consultant, Supervisor of Military Records, Director of Local History and Genealogical Programs, and Assistant Director of the Institute of Genealogical Research at American University. He was particularly noted for his knowledge of military and pension records covering the period of the Revolutionary War through the Civil War. He exhibited an outstanding ability to uncover sources important to persons of African American descent engaged in researching their family lineage. Mr. Walker's principal publications included Black Genealogy: How to Begin (1977), portions of the National Archives publication Ethnic Genealogy with Jessie C. Smith, ed. (1980) and Guide to Local History, National Archives (1981). He also helped Alex Haley with genealogical research that later became the basis for Haley's best-selling saga, Roots. At the conclusion of his government service in 1979, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Award.

Always active in genealogical activities and matters of every nature, Walker served as membership and program chairman and second vice president of the National Genealogical Society (1978-1980). He was elected a Fellow by NGS in 1978. He was a council member of the American Association for State and Local History (1974-1978), a trustee of the board for Certification of Genealogists (1974-1978), a member of the Planning Committee of the World Conference on Records (1980), a member of the Washington, D.C., Historic Records Advisory Board (1980-1986), a member of the Washington, D.C., Bicentennial Commission (1986-1991) and a member of the Ellis Island Restoration Commission (1988-1993). Throughout his career he was a much sought after lecturer, teacher and research consultant to historical and genealogical organizations. He was included as a biographee in the 1981 and 1990 editions of Who's Who in Genealogy and Heraldry by Mary Keysor Meyer and P. William Filby, Editors.

James Dent Walker joins Donald Lines Jacobus, Waiter Goodwin Davis, Gilbert Cope, John Farmer, George Andrews Moriarty Jr., Lucy Mary Kellogg, Meredith Bright Colket Jr., Henry FitzGilbert Waters, Archibald Fowler Bennett, Joseph Lemuel Chester, George Ernest Bowman, John Insley Coddington, and Dr. Jean Stephenson in the National Genealogy Hall of Fame. Visitors are welcome, and complimentary brochures and leaflets are available. Included in this historic room is a small library containing works by and about those who have been elected to the Hall of Fame. The large photo-portraits of each individual further personalize the scene and emphasize the fact that genealogy also has its roots. The National Genealogy Hall of Fame honors men and women of the past who made significant contributions to the field of genealogy in the United States. The National Genealogy Hall of Fame Committee elects one person to the Hall of Fame annually. The Hall of Fame electors from throughout the United States are Donn Devine (Del.), John Frederick Dorman (Va.), Wendy Elliot (Calif.), P. William Filby (Md.), Jo White Linn (N.C.), Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Ill), David M. Mayfield (Utah), Varney R. Nell, chairman (Va.), Sandra K. Ogle (Calif.), Dr. Thomas K. Roderick (Maine), Netti Schreiner-Yantis (Va.), Danny D. Smith (Maine), and Elizabeth Pearson White (Ill).

Nominations for election to the Hall of Fame in 2000 will be received until 1 December 1999. Official nomination forms and election criteria may be obtained by writing to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame, 4527 17th Street North, Arlington, VA 22207-2399. Announcement of the results of the 2000 election will be made at the NGS Conference in the States in Providence, Rhode Island, 31 May -3 June 2000.

NGS Hall of Fame

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