2012 International Black Genealogy Summit

From October 18-20, 2012, nearly 300 genealogists gathered for the International Black Genealogy Summit in Salt Lake City, UT.  Me, and AAGSNC members Mia Belk, Michelle LaDoux, Lisa Lee, Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, and Barbara Tyson were in attendance at this second installment of the summit which began in 2009 and was held in Ft. Wayne, IN.

Salt Lake City is a genealogical paradise with the FamilySearch Library.  So, it has to be hard to plan a great event there without researchers ditching a conference just to go and do research, right?  Well, those who put together IBGS 2012 planned an excellent event that was sure to keep attendees out of the library!  *Laughs*  Chairs for the conference were Algurie Wilson (AZ) and Deborah Abbott (OH) and included committees made up of Cathy Neal (OH), Marjorie Sholes (CA), Hellene Palmer (CA), LaDonna Garner (MO), Phyllis Caruth (UT), Gena Weaver (CA) and Tim Pinnick.

The activity packed agenda included tours of the FamilySearch Library, an opening reception, LDS Tabernacle choir rehearsal, two speakers from FamilySearch (Jim Ison and Robert Raymond), a banquet featuring Pulitzer prize winning author, Isabel Wilkerson, in addition to  32 amazing workshops!  Yes, all of that happened in four days!  For a speaker list and the official schedule, please visit the IBGS website.

I was proud to speak at the conference this year about successfully engaging youth in genealogy research.  I shared many of the things that I’ve learned working with youth through AAGSNC’s partnership with Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson’s Ancestral Project.  I got a lot of great feedback about the presentation as well as regarding things session attendees could put into practice in their own research projects.  I even got mentioned in the African Roots Podcast #185 which is produced by Angela Walton-Raji during the event!

The highlight of the conference was definitely the banquet speech given by Isabel Wilkerson, author of the book The Warmth of Other Suns.  It took her 15 years and 1,200 interviews to complete the book.  Her speech was so powerful and really drove home the point that we would not have many influential and notable people that we know throughout history if they and their families hadn’t participated in the largest single migration in U.S. history.

AAGSNC member Mia Belk, standing, with author Isabel Wilkerson.

Amongst all the great sessions, which included topics such as Freedman’s Bureau records, using non-traditional sources to identify slave ownership, digital scrapbooking, church records, searching for the living and connecting with the slave owner’s descendant, there was also time to head to the FamilySearch Library.  It was so nice to see so many of us out in big numbers in the library.  As I passed many through the many rows of books and cabinets of microfilm, I gave a wink or a smile, as if to say “I see you and thank you for being here.”

The next IBGS will be held in 2015 in Washington, DC.  I also learned of an additional conference, the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI) which will take place from July 8-11, 2013 in St. Louis, MO.  For details, please visit the official website.

What I searched for at the FamilySearch library – the marriage license of my great great grandparents.
Blended Families slide from Angela Walton-Raji’s session. The full blooded Choctaw woman, sitting, had descendants that were both of African and European descent, standing.
AAGSNC member, Barbara Tyson, left, with session speaker, Angela Walton-Raji. Angela is the host of the African Roots Podcast.
Bernice Bennett, session speaker, and host of Research at the National Archives and Beyond.
Left to Right: Victoria J. Robinson, Natonne Kemp, me, Bernice Bennett, Angela Walton-Raji, Agyrie Taylor-McCray.
Left to right: Bernice Bennett, Natonne Kemp, Karen Burney, Angela Walton-Raji, Jean Denton Thompson, and Argyrie Taylor-McCray.
Deborah Abbott, left, and Alguirie Wilson, right, IBGS chairs, present Wilkerson with an award.
Me and Mia before we departed.


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