Thursday, June 14, 2012

Samford IGHR African American Round Table A Hit Around the Country

Tim Pinnick opened up discussion in the African American Round Table Discussion 

On Wednesday for the second time a round-table met in Dwight Beeson Hall in Brock Forum for a chat about issues of interest to those who research African American history and genealogy. Tim Pinnick and Angela Walton-Raji co-moderated the session and about 35 people took time during the lunch break to participate. The discussions were also shared on Twitter, Facebook and there was an online genealogy chat that also participated at the same time on

Tim Pinnick opened the session by with a discussion of African  American genealogical societies, and their relevance, their value and the value of membership in such societies. He also asked if any society members volunteered in any way to teach or mentor new members.

Bernice Bennett shared her experience as a volunteer at the Family History Center in Kensington MD, and how she has a dynamic group that has formed specifically for African American researchers. This group was recently featured in a front page article in the Washington Post. (The article can be found here.)

Bernice Bennett describes her involvement with a genealogy group in the greater Washington DC area.

In Central Maryland, Alice Harris took a group that had gone dormant for almost 7 years.  She shared how she was able to revive the group, bring the membership up to several dozen members, and how the group now is a vibrant community of genealogists from beginners to advanced. Ms. Harris actually teaches a beginners genealogy class at  Howard County Community College. From that class she was able to revive a chapter of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society. She shared how she was able to bring a dormant chapter back to life.

Alice Harris, President of the Central MD Chapter of AAHGS.

One participant made a suggestion of the collaboration with other established groups. Collaborations with historical societies, or state genealogical societies could be a method of reviving those groups that have had problems with dwindling numbers.

Mona Vance of Columbis MS suggested Collaborating with other established groups could be a useful strategy.

The audience appeared to be very engaged in the dialogue and as many got up to share their experiences, some also had questions asking for advice for establishing chapters, and for stimulating activities for current members.

Audience members listening to others sharing their stories about their own societies.

Pat Richley-Erickson (DearMRYTLE) had some good observations to share with the group and show some general support. She also pointed out that society issues are the same all over the country. Technology issues, dwindling membership and a need to reach out to younger members is essential for all groups.

Pat Richley-Erickson (DearMYRTLE) sharing her thoughts with the group.

One useful suggestion for those hoping to create a society, was made by Course 8 coordinator Frazine Taylor. She suggested that one consider working with a local African American church. Churches are the often the pulse of the black community and by working with local pastors in small communities, one might be able to stimulate some interest in the local area.

Frazine Taylor, Coordinator of Course 8 suggested reaching out to local churches.

Isaac Prentiss relocated from Maryland back to Alabama several years ago. He shared how he was able to create a group of Buffalo Soldier historians and re-enactors. He found a group of people with an interest in history and genealogy who would often drive to Atlanta. He was able to establish a group in the local Alabama community.

Isaac Prentiss of Alabama shared his experience working with a local community. Mr. Prentiss has also established a chapter of 9th and 10th Cavalry Association.

Participants from Course 8 and other tracks at Samford joined the discussion. Nancy Fisher of FL shares her perspective with the group.

In addition to the valuable dialogue was the use of social media and the internet during the meeting. A live chat was taking place on The daily "Lunch Bunch" got a chance to attend "virtually". As dialogue ensued in the live roundtable discussion, they were updated on the discussion and the members of the online group also engaged in meaningful discussion about the same subject.  A large screen was also available for the audience to watch the online chat as it was unfolding as well.  The live chat on AfriGeneas has also been logged and the log, is now available to read on

The live online screen of the AfriGeneas Chat unfolded during the roundtable and they had 
an online discussion of the same subject at the same time.

In addition to the live chat on AfriGeneas, photos of the Round Table were also being shared on Facebook as well as on Twitter. I was personally updating my followers on Twitter by uploading images to the genealogy community there.

My Twitter Page reflects the continuous posts that I was making to the genealogy community on Twitter

The response to the photos and updates being placed on Twitter was positive and the request was to keep them coming as many in the Twitter community were following the posts.

Some responses from the Twitter genealogy community reflected an interest expressed from those who could not be present but who expressed an interest in the round table discussion.

The Round Table gathering was a success and the discussion was also carried out into the AfriGeneas community pulling in participants from Arizona, Ohio, New York, Atlanta, Washington DC and more.  We were delighted to be able to use social media and share images on Facebook, Twitter and a live java-script enabled chat that pulled many from the cyber-world and blogging community together. Hopefully such discussions will now become a regular feature of this track and others at  Samford IGHR.


Anonymous said...

That's what I am talking about. EACH ONE TEACHING SOMEONE. I tried to get in on it, but my expertise on this computer has a lot to be desired. Cudo's to all of you. This sounds like great things may be coming.

Ssylvia Cooke martin said...

I enjoyed the update on Issac Prentiss. I miss his being in the Maryland area. The update on Alice Harris work in revival of the Central Maryland Chapter is encouraging. The work must go!
My thanks to Angela!!!

Sylvia Cooke Martin