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Re: Report on the Southern Sources Symposium


Thank you so much for sharing your notes and thoughts about this Symposium. It was helpful to read about the interactions between professional historians and others. I appreciate the time it took you to share this info with us.

I'm a stay at home mom and a novice geneologist (I research in the middle of the night when my kids are asleep). I've had interesting meetings with the pros myself some good, some not so.

1. Professor Deborah Willis at NYU published a book called A Small Nation of People : W. E. B. Du Bois and African American Portraits of Progress. My husband gave me the book as a Christmas present and going through it I saw an unidentified picture of an ancestor's husband. I sent her the documentation of this man's life and connected her to a lot of info about him that she passed on to the Smithsonian; including the fact that there are many family pictures for this man, his wife and children in the Pauli Murray Collection At Harvard. The same picture is on the Rootsweb site for Cabarrus County, NC and I sent them the info too.

2. I found an ancestor's slave narrative on the Library of Congress site and found out who interviewed her. I then tracked down the interviewer' daughter who's in her 70's and cold called her. She was a WONDERFUL resource. This Lady grew up in my ancestor's town and was with her mother when the interview took place. She rembered meeting my ancestor because my ancestor gave her a frizzled chicken. Without prompting she then told me stories of other of my ancestors she knew and then said that when they did the interview they took my slave ancestor's picture and a copy was at UNC Chapel Hill. She had gone to UNC and identified the former slaves she knew but didn't know what UNC did with the info. I then cold called the UNC archivist she had met. This man is now retired. He wrote a book using some of the slave narrative photos, but didn't remember if he had used my ancestor's picture. I ordered his book and low and behold there were TWO pictures of my ancestor with her name AND she's holding the frizzled chicken. I was able to verifiy her identity because she raised a cousin of mine until the 1940's and he's still alive to say that it was her. (HAPPY DANCE!)

3. The West Virginia State Archives has a very nice collection of African American family and community photos that included my Aunt and Uncle. I got in touch with Mr. Joe Geiger there and asked if he'd like copies of photos and documents that I have, including an edition of an African American Newspaper my great grandfather published. Mr. Geiger was very gracious and I sent him info and photos from the 1890's-1960's. I got a lovely letter back from the archives and they've started a collection with my name on it that I can show my husband when he asks why I do all this genealogy stuuf :)

4. My great grandfather was an AME minister from 1894-1919. I have his journal/scrapbook; copies of all of his sermons (including one from before 1919 that says women should have equal rights with men); His letters as a trustee of Wilberforce; literally hundreds of pictures of churches, revivals, family and friends and even more. The archivist of the AME Church has an article on the web that quotes my great grandfather so I called him to offer him access to this info and sent him copies of some of what I have. He was very nice on the phone but never got back to me. Since then I've been trolling around in and came across a front page newspaper article from the 1910's with a picture of a biracial church revival. In the picture there is a huge banner that says "Make Christ King". My ancestor was quoted in the article and when I went through his photos, it turns out I have in my posession the Original photo that the newspaper used. I'm pretty sure someone should use this material to expand our notions of African American life, but for now, it's stored as safely as I can make it in my basement in waterproof bins.

Take Good Care,


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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