Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network

After having attended last week's IBGS--the 1st International Black Genealogy Summit---it became obvious to many in attendance that the value was on many levels. The opportunity to hear talented researchers was first and foremost, and of course the wonderful opportunity to utilize the resources at Allen County Public Library were an added plus. However, the opportunity to network and to meet others was a critical part of the event, and hopefully seeds were planted to establish new relationships and form new bonds genealogically as well as professionally.

I have often noted that many genealogists are "out there" doing their thing, but many if not most of us work in isolation---going through our task lists and proceeding where our interests and projects take us. However, at some time it is critical for those who have been researching for a long time to consider stepping outside of their comfort zone and sharing, what has been found, what has been learned and to begin to teach others.

There is much room for greater expression of ideas and interests among African American researchers, and there is a need for more of us to step up to the plate and teach, present, lecture, write articles, books, produce journals, develop websites, blogs and so much more. There are blogs, but we need more blogs. There are writers, but we need more writers. There are African American bloggers, but we need more of them.

The question arises---how does one get the ideas of those projects to undertake? The answer is simple----network!

Begin to listen to the projects and interests of your peers. Understand that your fellow genealogist has developed a vast amount of knowledge already pertaining to the geographic area in which he/she specializes and quite possibly has developed some resources about his/her community. If you have come to admire the work of one, and if the project has merit, it is worth considering developing the same thing for the community that you research.

While attending a genealogy chapter meeting today, a discussion for the coming year’s calendar arose. The activities of another well organized group in the Midwest was brought up as a model. Then it hit me---we have mentors among us.

We often speak admiringly of those who have impressed us, at events. We flocked by the hundreds to hear last week’s keynote speaker, Dorothy Spruill Redford. As researchers were are proactive people---when we get a clue we follow it. Well, perhaps we should treat each other as mentors---those fellow genealogists, whom we admire are actually our mentors, our models whether we have a relationship with them or not. As we listened to the wisdom of last week’s speaker---she is a model for us to follow.

The caliber of her research is sound, but her involvement in the community where her ancestors lived as slaves—is one for us emulate. Not all can become curators of an estate, but we all have a responsibility to own what we do---share it, present it, and to become well versed in the local history and work vehemently to put our history on the proper historical landscape.

The benefit of networking with our peers can bring about other new ventures and often fresh ideas. If you have a unique history---then become the most informed about the subject. We already have wonderful mentors among us. We can learn from the efforts of Timothy Pinnick who after learning that some of his ancestors were coal miners, became the national authority on black coal miners in the county.

There is the work of Angela Bates of Nicodemus Kansas who became the spokespersonand hsitorian for her family and community that were among the Exodusters from east of the Mississippi who settled and formed this black Kansas community.

What is your forte in your research? Are you searching a corner of the west? Become the authority.
Are you researching the Gullah communities, or the outer banks of NC?

Whatever your interest---find a model---like Dr. Agnes Kane Callum, who produced a journal once a year for 20 + years, on her ancestral county of St. Mary’s Maryland. Her self-published journal, Flower of the Forest, among her other books are now found in every major genealogical repository in the country. And we saw her books at Allen County Library last week.

The lesson is that we met many whom we admired last week and we walked away inspired.

Perhaps it is time to take that lesson forward a step and make that admired person a mentor and learn from them, and follow their footsteps.

The next generation will be blessed by the results of this networking and growing that we do, today.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Angela,

This article is brilliant and inspired!
I hope everyone reads it.

Oh how I wished to be at last week's IBGS--the 1st International Black Genealogy Summit!
Thank you George. I know you will be there, next time!

I had a great lunch Saturday with some genealogy colleagues and it solidified many of the feelings that I had as I left Ft. Wayne. Every person there had a unique story to tell, and I suspect that many interesting things will emerge from that group alone.

We all have so much wisdom around us, and hopefully as we are energized and inspired, one can only look towards the future to see what will unfold. Some gems are already among us and many have begun to write, mentor, teach, and reach out. The future is promising.

Thanks for this provacative post! I can tell that the IBGS was a full-fulling and inspiring for all who attended! Hopefully, the event will continue to be blessed, and I will be in attendance in one of the years to come. :)

Thank you for a such thought provoking post. I wish I could have attended the conference. Hopefully, I can be at the next one.
Okay Y'all.. here comes that know-it-all Art Thomas following in Angela's footsteps. Angela, everything you stated is so very true and I wouldn't change one word. I want to add another angle to this process of 'networking".

Sharing our research... And I'm not speaking about our own personal genealogies and family history, but work all of us have done on a larger scale. I would like to use as an example what one lady, Sheila (Farmer) Clay, in my area of Ohio has done. Sheila is now deceased (2009) and this work was all done before and without the aid of computers and today's technology.

In every public library in our nine (9) county area, several area university libraries and NARA regional repositories in Ohio Sheila furnished copies of her 'community' research. ...The Guy Allen Funeral Records Urbana, Ohio 1934-1956, All black births, marriages deaths from 1864-1907 for Champaign County, Ohio, The History of St. Paul A.M.E. Church Urbana, Ohio 1824-1999 (175 yrs.), The Chavers-Stilgess Family from 1820 and her book "Black Legacy: A History of Blacks in Champaign County, Ohio 1803-2003. Oh, and all of these could be found on the Ohio shelves at the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne. Sheila urged us in her home area to write about Ohio AA's in the local, state and national genealogy newsletters and journals. She pushed those who were qualified to become menbers of the the genealogical lineage societies where their ancesotors resided. She explained this was somewhat a "peer review" of your documented research. Sheila was neither an accredited or profesionally registered genealogist. Her thing was sharing the history of her/our folks with anyone or any group that cared about perserving genealogical research and family histories.

Angela closed by stating:

"Perhaps it is time to take that lesson forward a step and make that admired person a mentor and learn from them, and follow their footsteps.

The next generation will be blessed by the results of this networking and growing that we do, today."

I hope to follow the lessons of Sheila and Network and to Share.

~Art Thomas

Telling the story of Sheila Farmer Clay is a great one! Her work should be more widely known! Her efforts are exactly the kinds of works that should be emulated!!!

Do you have copies of her works?

Yes, I have copies of her work. I would like to share with y'all some photos from her book "Black Legacy" the cover photo & the preface. the book is out of print, but the LCCCN is 95-92040. Here also, are some photos of pages from "The History of St. Paul A.M.E. Church Urbana, Ohio." As a personal note for St.Paul, any reference to Adams, Reno, Lancaster, Tudor, Walker, Bridges and Gaiter surnames is an ancestor of mine.

note: Click on image for an enlarged view.

Sheila & Black Legacy

St. Paul A.M.E.

George Haley, brother of Alex Haley & Virignia (Scott) Barron, 4th great-granddaughter of Francis & Rachel Reno, charter members of St. Paul A.M.E. (1824) at a 2005 Black History Month program in the Church.

Sorry about posting so many photos, but I couldn't figure any other way to a "piece" of Shelia's work.






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