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African American Genealogy Symposium

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will present a two-day African American Genealogy Symposium on September 8-9, 2006 from 10:00 AM to 3:45 PM (doors open at 9:00 AM). Archivists and genealogists will discuss how to get started on your family research, Government documents and African Americans, Five Civilized Tribes, slavery and the census, Black migration, Blacks in the Navy, WW1 draft registrations, the U.S. Colored Troops, Buffalo Soldiers, Southern Claims Commission records, Freedmen’s Bureau records, and other primary sources available to trace your family history, DAR sources and the newest finding regarding DNA.  The symposium will provide information and guidance for seasoned genealogy professionals and novices alike. 

Cost: ( payable by cash or check at the door)
One day: $25
Two days: $40

Reservations required.  To pre-register, call Jessie White at 301-837-5333.

NOTE the change in location:  Due to flood damage at the National Archives Building, in Washington, DC, we will be holding the African American Genealogy Symposium in the theater and conference rooms at the National Archives, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD.  See our website for directions.

Project aims to identify blacks who fought in Revolution

BOSTON –Thousands of black men fought for American independence during the Revolutionary War, yet their contributions to the nation’s freedom are for the most part unrecognized and rarely appear in modern history books.

Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the Sons of the American Revolution are hoping to change that by undertaking an ambitious project to identify those soldiers, and then find their descendants.

"My first goal with this project is to enhance the awareness of the American public of the role of African-Americans in the struggle for freedom in this country," said Gates, director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard.

"Plus, my concern is that there are many people walking around, like me, who had no idea that I had an ancestor who fought in the Revolution," he said.

It was that revelation which inspired Gates to launch the project.

Gates learned of his family history during filming of the PBS documentary series "African American Lives," which used DNA testing and genealogical research to investigate the ancestry of notable black Americans.

Genealogist Jane Ailes revealed to Gates — executive producer of the series that first aired in February — that his fifth great-grandfather on his mother’s side was John Redman, a farmer from Williamsport, Va. (now part of West Virginia), who for four years fought with the 1st Virginia Light Dragoons during the Revolution.

Joseph W. Dooley, the chairman of the Sons of the American Revolution’s membership committee, wants to identify as many people as possible who contributed to the Revolutionary War effort whose sacrifices "are not appreciated and not recognized," he said. Though he’s starting with blacks, he envisions future projects to track the contributions of women and Native Americans to the war effort.

An estimated 5,000 blacks fought for independence during the Revolution.

"It’s not recognized by most Americans that perhaps as much as 10 percent of George Washington’s troops were black," Dooley said. "It’s reasonable to say that the contribution of blacks in the American Revolution was indispensable."

Ailes, the Virginia-based genealogist, plans to look over 80,000 pension applications for Revolutionary War soldiers, and compare those names against the federal census records, which often contained information on race.

In just the few weeks since the project was launched, Ailes said she has already identified more than 20 people who may have served in the Revolutionary War, including an escaped slave who changed his name and joined the Continental Army.

The project, funded by Harvard and Sons of the American Revolution, could take years to complete.

Once the first portion of the project is completed, the researchers will publish the results and hope that the descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers come forward. Those descendants will then be eligible to apply for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution or the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Both lineage organizations are overwhelmingly white. Of nearly 27,000 members of Sons of the American Revolution, less than 30 are black, said Jim Randall, executive director and chief executive of the Louisville, Ky.-based organization.

Of 165,000 Daughters of the American Revolution members, only about 30 are black, Dooley said.

Membership in either group requires unimpeachable documentation, and this project could pave the way for potentially thousands of new members.

"This initiative is an opportunity to assist individuals in their quest to become members of the SAR," Randall said. "We want to recognize all Patriots who served.

"There’s also an opportunity here for some significant research, to uncover more accounts of bravery and courage during that period, and more information on what happened at that time."

Gates was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution earlier this month at a ceremony in Texas, and several other members of his family are awaiting membership approval or plan on applying. He said it was something he had dreamed of since reading DuBois’s "Dusk of Dawn."

DuBois, a Massachusetts-born black activist of the early 20th century, had been admitted to the organization’s state chapter, but was rejected by the national organization because he could not provide the proper documentation.

"I envied him for having the knowledge that he could make that claim, but I never thought I’d be standing up there," Gates said. "It was a great honor and very exciting to pay homage to my ancestor. He risked his life to fight for the freedom of this country."

——

On the Web: Sons of the American Revolution, http://www.sar.org

Daughters of the American Revolution, http://www.dar.org

Harvard’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute, http://dubois.fas.harvard.edu

from boston.com news

Family History Game

Luanga Nuwame, 29 doesn’t play games. He creates them.

2143 Mississauga News

A couple of years ago, Nuwame hit upon an idea of creating Black Heritage trading cards. Soon, he was inundated with requests from consumers who wanted to buy them, but upon doing the math, he realized he couldn’t print the cards commercially. Instead, he sat down and created each of the 300 sets by hand, in the basement of his Credit Woodlands home.

"It is not tedious work to me," Nuwame said. "I am making something for my consumers that I personally developed and created and that gives me a rush."

The success of the trading cards led him to design and develop customized hand-made cards and games such as, The Family Tree, an interactive board game that is based on genealogy. The game can be tailor-made to suit any family.

"Customers can either go to the store and get run-of-the-mill trivia game or have their own customized board games for them and their loved ones," he said. "For instance, if you’ve a son or daughter who plays rookie sports, I can make rookie trading cards made specifically for you."

His company, laNuwame.com has two core products – games and cards that he sells directly to his customers. He faces challenges every day. As a small home operated business, Nuwame doesn’t have the capital or manpower to advertise or market his products, instead he has to rely on the buzz and strength of his products. He recalls many opportunities that could not be pursued because he lacked the capital, yet his passion for his work fuelled his desire to succeed.

"This is what I am destined to do," Nuwame said. "But when it comes to a love, I really enjoy the process of making stuff, creating products that will entertain and educate."

Nuwame explains he creates custom cards based on the feedback he receives from his customers. He said he provides them each with a booklet with an exhaustive questionnaire.

"I love trading cards, and to me trading cards are an educational tool," he said. "I show history in a way people can collect, enjoy and learn…"

The young entrepreneur said he has more than 400 ideas for games and cards; some in mind, some on paper. He said he would eventually want to translate the ideas into products and sell them through his own store.

I want to be able to make a living doing what I love – designing games and toys," he said.

For more information or detail on products log on to www.lanuwame.ca.

VA Adds Maps to Online Gravesite Locator

The following is an announcement from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):

WASHINGTON – The grave locations of more than three million veterans and dependents buried in national cemeteries can be found more easily now because the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has added maps of burial sections online that can be printed from home computers and at national cemetery kiosks. The latest improvement builds upon a service begun two years ago, in which a VA online feature permits family members to find the cemetery in which their loved one is buried.

“This new map feature makes it easier for families, friends and researchers to find the exact location of a veteran’s grave in all national cemeteries and some state veterans cemeteries,” said the Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “It enhances VA’s service at national cemeteries, already highly regarded, and our commitment to them as national shrines and historical treasures.”

The gravesite locator (http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov), online since April 2004, helps veterans’ families, former comrades-in-arms and others find the cemeteries where veterans are buried.  With the new online feature, people enter a veteran’s name to search, click on the “Buried At” (burial location) link and a map of the national cemetery is displayed, showing the section where the grave is located.

In a related development, VA recently added to its database the cemeteries in which 1.9 million veterans were buried with VA grave markers.  These are mostly private cemeteries.  This addition brings the number of graves recorded in the locator to approximately five million.  Those with maps are in VA national cemeteries and in state veterans cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery if burials were since 1999.

Beyond the five million records now available, VA continues to add approximately 1,000 new records to the database each day.  VA also plans to add to its online database the exact locations of veterans’ gravesites in the remaining state veterans cemeteries.

In the midst of the largest cemetery expansion since the Civil War, VA operates 123 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33 soldiers’ lots and monument sites.  More than three million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict — from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terror — are buried in VA’s national cemeteries on more than 16,000 acres of land.

Veterans with a discharge other than dishonorable, their spouses, and eligible dependent children may be buried in a national cemetery.  Other burial benefits include a burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a government headstone or marker – even if they are not buried in a national cemetery. Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Internet at http://www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 1 800-827-1000.

from eogn.com

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