Sunday, February 20, 2011

AAGSNC Black Family History Day

Wow.  I am exhausted.  I was one of the volunteers today at the first AAGSNC Black Family History Day, hosted by the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC) and the Oakland Regional Family History Center (ORFHC).  Electra Price, the organizer of the event and a well known and beloved researcher, expected about 75 people to come.  We had between 150 and 175 participants.  We were thrilled at the turnout but were kept busy every single minute.

Before the open house actually began, we had a surprise thank you ceremony and cake for Electra, who recently retired from coordinating the monthly African American Research Workshops at the ORFHC.  She appeared to be totally surprised and was self-effacing as always.  After we all told her how much we appreciated her, she reminded us that we had to get to work!

People began arriving well before 2:00, excited about the opportunity to get an overview of family history research and to have assistance in getting started.  We had several volunteer genealogists lined up to help, and we were fortunate to have Lisa Lee of show up as an extra volunteer.

Writer and historian Antoinette Broussard, author of African American Celebrations and Holiday Traditions, spoke at 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. about her great-aunt Dr. Nettie J. (Craig) Asberry.  She is completing research for a memoir about her great-aunt, who earned a doctoral degree in music in 1883 and was likely the first black woman to earn a doctorate.  From what I heard, it was an excellent presentation.

I had a special surprise of my own.  A dear friend of mine whom I had not seen since I lost my job last May came to the open house.  I was able to help her find herself in the 1930 census with her parents and her seven sisters.  She promised to come back and continue her research.

Most of the participants found at least one record relating to their family, whetting their interest to come back and look for more.  No one wanted to stop, but we had to close so we volunteers could get home and reclaim the remainder of our Sunday.  Everyone enjoyed the open house, and we're already talking about when we'll hold the next one.

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