Saturday, February 11, 2012

Black Family History Day

The African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC) held its third Black Family History Day today at the Oakland Family History Center.  Volunteers were told at the beginning of the event that 125 people had preregistered, and we knew we would have walk-ins.  I have not heard how many people we actually had, but it didn't seem crowded.  The February 2011 event drew between about 175 attendees; the event in October 2011 had 64 preregistered people and only a few walk-ins.  The fact that February is Black History Month probably gives some people more incentive to come.

Besides an introductory workshop for beginners and one-on-one consultations for individual research, today's event also included a performance by a church choir and a lecture on the Roots into the Future Project, given by Dr. Joanna Mountain of 23andMe.  Dr. Mountain's talk was presented twice so that attendees could take turns between the lecture and computer research.

About 35 volunteers (including me!) from AAGSNC, the California Genealogical Society, and the Oakland Family History Center were on hand to assist attendees.  Almost everyone found some information on their families.  In one way we were victims of our own success when we had so many people searching databases at the same time that the FHC server slowed everything to a crawl.

Last year I helped a friend of mine find herself in the 1930 census as a two-year-old girl.  I didn't have any results that dramatic this year, but I did help one woman find her grandmother in the California birth index under her birth name (she was informally adopted in the early 20th century).

It's great that these events get so many people to come and work on their family history, but I have noticed that very few of the attendees return to the Family History Center to do more research.  I hope they're working on it at home!

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