African American Genealogy Conference

This Saturday, March 12, from 1–4 p.m., my church is sponsoring a genealogical conference focusing on African American genealogical research. I’ll be teaching one of the breakout sessions, Top Ten Tips for Getting Started in Genealogy. They’re bringing in a well-renowned speaker who’s an expert in this field, but I can’t find my flier to tell you who he is (I’ll edit this later if I do—his credentials were impressive). I believe he had something to do with the opening up of the Freedmen’s Bureau records for family history research. I’ll be focusing on methodology—making sure you cover all your bases. That can get pretty tricky in African American research in particular, depending on what area of the country your family is from, how well their records were kept, and at what point you either leave the country, hit slavery, or both. This is complicated by many Southern records being destroyed during the Civil War and our country’s history of institutional racism, which sometimes affects the quality of census and vital records. We’ll start with the basics, and then talk about some places to go that might not be as “easy” as the census but might bear more fruit in individual circumstances.

There will also be a simultaneous workshop that will let people get individualized attention if they’re beyond the basics.

If you’re in the New York City area and interested in getting started on your family history, or if you’ve been stumped at some point and want to get back into it, come on up to Harlem this Saturday.

Harlem LDS Chapel

306 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10027

Saturday, March 12

1–4 p.m.

ETA: Aha! I found the flier with the speaker information, and yep, it’s pretty cool. He’s from the National Archives. Here’s the flier and more info:

Reginald Washington is an archivist and genealogy specialist at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). A frequent lecturer and published author, he testified before Congress in support of The Freedmen’s Bureau Preservation Act of 2000, which provided three million dollars for the preservation of Freedmen’s Bureau records.

Mr. Washington’s keynote address will discuss the use, availability and the value of the Southern Claims Commission‘s case files for African American Genealogical research.  He will also provide information on how to utilize the resources found at the National Archives and Records Administration office in Washington DC.

Attendees can also choose to attend two of the following workshops:

  • Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records
  • African-American Research: Geographical Resource Tutorial
  • “Top 10 Tips for Getting Started on Genealogy”
  • Interactive Work Session – exploring

Free and open to the public you can register by emailing

or in person the day of the conference