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2 March 2010: A Call To Action For African American Researchers

My friend Luckie Daniels of Our Georgia Roots, has written another thought provoking Monday Madness post, this time to the African American Genealogy Community – Madness Monday: The Digital Divide Revisited ~ Tough Love For The African-American Genealogy Community.  After commenting on Luckie’s post, I realized I had actually written my next post.  Yes, I could have let that suffice, but I felt I needed to show my support for and belief in Luckie’s position here on my blog.  So often, we sit back in the amen corner bowing our heads up and down in agreement, but never speak-up and take a stance. I wanted to echo Luckie’s sentiments. My comment to her did that, and posting it here reiterates it. There needs to be some serious changes in the African American genealogy community; those changes need to occur sooner, rather than later before we are standing in the shadows as the online genea-community moves forward.

Thank you Luckie for a very timely and long overdue post.  How sad it was to hear people who have been researching their family history for years stand up in a meeting and ask for help, but they are not on the internet, don’t like, won’t do it. There are so any resources out there, and many connections to make, but you won’t find them in your living room or in the archives.  Genealogy is changing, and the African American community of researchers must change with it. And, it’s not only in genealogy. As another comment so appropriately pointed out, we are missing a wealth of information and resources by not being a part of the online community. It is up to us to take advantage of what is there.

After Luckie’s post, Monday Madness: Open Letter To The Genealogy Community – Help Me To Understand!, many white researchers are now stepping up and sharing documents that might assist researchers in discovering more about their enslaved ancestors. The first Carnival of African American Genealogy is scheduled for March 19th. Look at all you’ve missed just in the last few weeks! How can you possibly take advantage of the opportunity to have access to documents that could help you make that long-awaited connection, or break down that brick wall, when you are not here-online and interacting with the genea-community?  How can you ask others to help you, when you won’t even help yourself? Luckie has issued a challenge, this time to the African American genealogy community. It is a call to action that I hope our fellow African American researchers will answer-SOON. Let’s not be left behind.

(Darn, you’re not online, so you probably won’t get to read this, or any of the other posts that geneabloggers are writing every day.  What a SHAME!!)

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12 September 2009: Where’s YOUR Family “STUFF”?

By sjtaliaferro

Once again I am inspired by my genea-friend Luckie Daniels and her recent post on Our Georgia Roots – What Is YOUR Family Story? Learn-Document-SHARE! Luckie challenged all of us to become better preservers of OUR family history. I believe that preservation has to start with us. WE must become better keepers of OUR family “STUFF”.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve asked family members for information (stories, pictures, documents..anything) only to be told…girl, I don’t have any “stuff”, or honey I just don’t remember any of that old “stuff”, or (my favorite) child, I don’t know what happened to all that old “stuff”. I’m sure you’ve heard similar responses to your requests for family information. Well, that “stuff” was/is your family history. We can’t get angry with anyone but OURSELVES if WE don’t start taking better care of OUR “stuff”.

I remember calling my Auntie Ruth one day and asking what she was doing. She said “just throwing away some old stuff.” This is my aunt on my paternal side, my father’s sister, so of course I was very curious about this “stuff”. “What kind of stuff” I asked. She replied “oh just some old pictures and things.” “NO” I screamed. After some back and forth, I convinced her to dig the pieces of “stuff” out of the trash and save it all for me. A few days later, I received an envelope in the mail. Inside that envelope was some very precious family “stuff” torn into pieces. I was able to piece together and save a picture of my grandmother, and a photo of my father and his brother taken about 1925 when they were little boys. There were also a few pictures of my Auntie Ruth in her younger days. A special piece of “stuff” was my aunt’s high school diploma-torn in half. My aunt had told me the story of how when she was in high school she gave herself a middle name because everyone had one except her. So now I have the high school diploma for Ruth “Louise” Taliaferro. I am so happy that I made that call at that time and saved some of my family “STUFF”.

For the majority of African Americans our ancestors’ stories were never told, recorded or preserved. It is an awful and frustrating reality. However, it will be even more awful if we do not stop the cycle of indifference and disinterest in our own family history. Let’s all do a better job of telling our ancestors’ stories-of keeping and preserving our family history. Let’s all do a better job of preserving, recording, documenting, and sharing our “STUFF” for our ancestors, ourselves, and more importantly, for our future.

So, my question to you… Where’s YOUR Family “STUFF”?

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30 August 2009: Clueless

By sjtaliaferro

Well, here I go; I am finally taking that leap into the world of genealogy blogs. I am Clueless. Over the past months I have come to see genealogy, African American Genealogy in particular, in a whole new light. Who knew all of you were out there, researching and blogging away…I was Clueless. But, I have been following many of you religiously over the past month or so with great interest and delight. Along with researching, reading genealogy blogs became a new favorite pastime. I have been inspired by your words, research techniques, knowledge, willingness to help others and, above all, your desire to tell the stories of your ancestors. Thanks to all of you who are out there sharing your journey. I want to say a special thanks to my “cousin” Luckie Daniels who unknowingly influenced my decision to take this next step in my research. I am totally addicted to your Our Georgia Roots!

Being the ultimate procrastinator I could keep putting this off until the end of time, easily. But, it’s time to move forward. September is my birthday month, and just around the corner so what better time is there to step out of my comfort zone, and try something new. It’s not the writing-I’m a paralegal and spend about 90 percent of my day writing so I’m fairly comfortable with pen in hand so to speak. It’s not the sharing-I enjoy taking about my research, exchanging research tips, and sharing with others if I have information they can use. It’s the public aspect-I am no longer quietly lurking in the background throwing in my 0.02 worth every now and then. That was comfortable, and easy. Also, I tend to keep most of the thoughts about my research in my head-not a very good place to be lately, and I know I should write more of it down. However, I had not intended to do it in such a public manner. But, here I am; ready, willing, and able, but Clueless.

I was just as Clueless about my Taliaferro roots when I began researching in 2003. I know more now than I knew then, but there is still much to discover and many more brick walls to break through. I am not as Clueless as I once was, but I am more eager than before to know who “my” Taliaferros were because….

I Never Knew My Father.

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