Friday, April 22, 2011

Fun at the NARA Genealogy Fair!

Thursday April 21, was a really full day for me. I attended the National Archives Genealogy Day!  After a ride on the MARC commuter train from Baltimore BWI station, and a quick 3 stops on the Washington DC Metro, I got off at the Archives/Navy Memorial stop on the Green Line.  This puts you directly across the street from the research entrance of the National Archives, on Pennsylvania Avenue.

As one crossed the street the tents were up and everything was right there! I think that people just passing by would see that something was going on and they were immediately drawn inside!

Thankfully, because it was a bit cool on Thursday, the tents had plastic draping to shield the fair from wind and the slight chill, outside. So even though they were outside, they were also inside.

Now, my purpose in being there was two-fold!  I had every intention of attending the fair. After all, I had questions to ask the folks at Footnote, and Ancestry, and I had some workshops that had caught my attention and I also had a little bit of research to do---I had to copy a Civil War Pension file of York McGilbra one of the black soldiers who served in the Indian Home Guards.

The exhibits were loads of fun.  The Archives had various tables, and there were buttons, pens, pencils and tons of give-aways at each table.

"Who are you Looking For?"

Buttons, and brochures and general info on the Archives were on hand for all visitors.

Besides staff from the National Archives there were representatives also from various organizations such as the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Members of the Association of Professional Genealogists

The workshop were quite interesting. I had decided to sit in on one of the sessions, about Free People of Color of New York.  The presenter was  Carla Peterson, a professor and author who shared information from her own family history. Her session was called, Black Gotham. A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth Century New York.

Carla Peterson, author of Black Gotham

While looking at one of her handouts--I recognized a name.  Maritcha Lyons was one of her ancestors! Wow---Maritcha Lyons!  If I was not mistaken, I have a wonderful story book about Maritcha Lyons. She was from a family of free people of color living in New York, and her family story was depicted in a beautiful children's book called Maritcha. A Remarkable Nineteenth Century American Girl.

Book cover: Maritcha. A Remarkable Nineteenth Century American Girl

I was anxious to chat with the author later, and when I saw her in the bookstore section of the exhibitions afterwards, I went to chat with her.  She confirmed that indeed that Maritcha was the same Maritcha on her family tree, and it was part of Marticha's diary from which much of her own information was based for her book Black Gotham. I was impressed and anxious to purchase a copy of the book, and to have her sign it for me.  And of course I had to have take a photo with her, as well.

Dr. Carla Peterson, author, and myself at the NARA Genealogy Fair

I also enjoyed the presenetation by a group of African American re-enactors, were sharing details on the lives of Civil War era black women.

Re-enactor as Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, first black female doctor shared her life story

  I was even able to capture some of their presentations on video.

Re-Enactment of Dr. Rebecca Crumpler

My day ended as I was able to obtain a Civil War pension file and found some additional information about a black soldier who served in the Indian Home Guards as well.

What an enjoyable day!! I look forward to next year's program!

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