Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Indianapolis, and My Time at the Eiteljorg

A View of the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis

Saturday May 21st, I was the guest of the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis Indiana. I was one of the speakers for the Genealogy Day program. The Eiteljorg has an interesting exhibition underway called Red-Black, Related Through History.

Logo for Eiteljorg Exhibition

It was a pleasure to visit this beautiful museum again, as I had the please of speaking there several years ago.  It has expanded, and the events were expanded to include a full day's schedule for the Genealogy Day program.

In addition to speaking, I had the pleasure to spend some time with some of the fascinating members of the Indiana African American Genealogy Society.  Friday evening after arriving in Indianapolis, I had the chance to have dinner with two of the members, Tonya Hull and Caretha Hull. One thing about spending time with other researchers, is that one gets to "talk genealogy" with people who understand.  Both of these ladies were wonderful dinner partners, indeed.

Tonya Hull & Caretha Hull hosted me for dinner on Friday evening. 
(Photo taken by Tonya Hull)

I have to admit that I had two surprises on Friday. When Tonya pulled up beside us, I knew that I recognized her, but was not certain where.  We exchanged our "good-to-see-you-again hugs" and proceeded into the restaurant and had a wonderful dinner.

Our conversation covered everything from current projects to our perspective on the genealogical community in general. I made a reference to a workshop that I attended last summer at Samford, and Tonya reminded me, that yes, she too saw it, for she was in the same session.  I looked at her, at first perplexed, and then embarrassed----gracious---of COURSE I had recognized her!!! She sat next to me for an entire week at Samford!!!!   We had a great laugh about that, and she said, "um  hmm.......I thought you didn't recognize me," Well of course she was right----as soon as I remembered, I also remembered her gadgets that she had in tow and we talked about that as well, (while we chuckled at my temporary amnesia.)

I blogged all week while at Samford and had to look and see if I had captured my seat companion on any of the images.  I did get a partial image of Tonya during one of the lectures:

On the left, Tonya is seen during one of the Samford lectures.

Our conversation we had was wonderful---we shared projects, discussed our thoughts about educating and training genealogists in the future---and we also had a wonderful dinner. (I confess to my excursion into a heavenly chocolate endeavor for dessert, but that's another discussion. )

Then there was Caretha! A friendly delightful person, Caretha had contacted me before I traveled to Indianapolis as she had some research questions that she had.  I was happy to meet her and discuss research challenges with her---and what a delight---this was rare for me---she was an Oklahoma researcher!  And she too researches the Freedmen of Oklahoma!  When she mentioned the communities of Okmulgee, Muskogee and Wybark, I realized that I had truly met a Creek Freedman descendant. We could then discuss findings from Dawes Records, the Dunn Roll, and other resources. This was a rare treat for me, as I rarely meet researchers when I travel, who discuss in depth the various Freedmen records and can engage in them with first hand knowledge. 

Caretha Hale and myself posing for a photo. Ms. Hale is a Creek Freedman Descendant
(Photo taken by Tonya Hull)

Saturday itself proved to be a busy day. The museum had planned a full genealogy day program, and there were exhibitors and dealers in addition to the program of speakers.

I was also surprised to know that a few blocks away fellow genealogist Tony Burroughs was also speaking at another genealogy event as well. Many of the members of the Indiana African American genealogy group had attended his session in the morning and then came over to the Eiteljorg for the afternoon speakers.  

Now, I learned several years ago that the Indiana African American Genealogy Group   is a group of serious researchers, and I enjoyed listening to some of the members speak about their upcoming programs including a research trip to Ft. Wayne, to the Allen County Public Library and the wonderful genealogical holdings there.  This group also hosts an annual conference in October, and they work continuously to mentor beginners in their genealogical journey. I was able to watch some of the mentoring in action on Saturday evening, when Tonya, a true leader, spoke to some of the beginners in her own group about organizing records.

After my presentation, the Eiteljorg also hosted a book signing for me at the museum book shop.  They had a good number of my book "Black Indian Genealogy Research. An Expanded Edition" for sale. Several people purchased a copy and I was able to autograph their copies.

At the book signing, I was happy to meet Dr. Ruby Cain, one of the conference planners for the National Black Genealogy Summit.  It was a pleasure to meet her as well as others whom I met before and after my presentation.

All in all, my experience in Indianapolis was a wonderful one, and I have to extend a special thank you to everyone who made my trip so pleasant: Tonya Hull, Caretha Hale, Tamara Winfrey Harris, Alisa Nordholt-Dean and others made my visit to Indianapolis a wonderful one. 

I left Indianapolis energized and inspired to get back to my own projects and to once again, get busy again.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Sounds like a wonderful experience. I've had some good research experiences in Indianapolis but meeting like minded people is always good.