Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Getting Down to the Research

Frazine Taylor, the coordinator provides an excellent overview 
at the beginning of each day's lectures.

After a detailed orientation from Frazine Taylor, the Afr. American track at Samford got down to business.
As the sessions unfolded, we got a chance to get a close look at resources that go beyond the basic vital records and census research.  From looking at abolition societies, to the methods of documenting one community, we were exposed to several presentations that approached African American research beyond the usual.

Shamele Jordon got things underway, by sharing her knowledge of the various abolition societies and the records that one can utilize from these organizations.  Some very useful databases were shared and some resources unknown to many researchers were presented.  A second presentation by Shamele Jordan was particularly interesting as she shared her research on the town on Lawnside, New Jersey, the first and only all African American incorporated town in the state of New Jersey.  She documented the history of this  community from the early 19th century into the present time.  Using online tools, she shared how she uses online sites such as Google Earth to document not only former home sites of early residents, but also how she plots burial sites using GIS coordinates, and then shares them online.

From Shamele Jordan's presentation, the class looks at an image of an historical map overlay on a Google Earth image of Lawnside New Jersey on Google Earth.

In the afternoon, we were given a chance to find out the many features in the African American collection on Ancestry.com.  Lisa Arnold of Ancestry presented information on the many offerings on Ancestry and she covered everything from how to use the collection, to specialized databases such as the Afro-Louisiana database created by Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo-Hall.

Lisa Arnold from Ancestry describes the Afr. Am Collection

A tremendous resource for genealogists lie in college and university manuscript collections. Dr. Deborah Abbot, provided an overview on how to use manuscript collections.  She not only spoke about various collections, but also provided information on how to located collections. There were many databases that I had never used before that I have already book-marked on my computer to explore later.

The final presentation of the day consisted of a close look at the contents of the Southern Claims Commission. Sharon Batiste Gillins, gave a very thorough presentation of the various kinds of records that can be found in the Southern Claims Collection. This under-used resource contains valuable data for researchers of all backgrounds.
Outline of session on Southern Claims Commission

As the days are passing, it is clear that perhaps the most wonderful part of the conference consists of the opportunity to network with other researchers.  I am impressed with the people who are here, and was surprised to learn how many are here for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time. I was excited to see old friends from Chicago as well as others whom I know from other states and they are returning participants. They are among some of the most well-read and well versed people, whom I admire and respect. I look forward myself to returning in future years.   This has been a great experience and the participants as well as the presenters have made it worthwhile.  

In the morning and in the afternoon, there is a break where participants can chat and share their ideas and projects with each other.  This break time is taken advantage of and truly indepth conversations take place during the breaks.  These are a few images from the African American Session, taken during break time, where real networking unfolds.


After attending this year's event---I can understand why so many are back again and again and again.


Renate Yarborough Sanders said...

Sounds like a great place to be and a very informative week. Continue to enjoy yourself, and thanks for all the sharing!


Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

Hi Renate,

Yes it was a wonderful experience! I look forward to future institutes. Samford is a must!