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African-American Civil War Museum Trip

On October 22, 2011, CMAAGHS took a field trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the new African-American Civil War Museum (AACWM) which opened in July 2011. Hari Jones, the AACWM Assistant Director and Curator led our group on a private tour and talked to us about the role of African-Americans during the Civil War. Hari is a knowledgeable and experienced historian, always willing to hope those in their researching the Civil War. It was a beautiful day and our members came out for the tour, bringing their children and grandchildren alike. We all had a joyous time and the new Museum truly has something for everyone.

We also toured the African-American Civil War Memorial and our members were able to cloate their ancestors’ names on the wall. We took lots of pictures even and found out that the museum provides certificates for those with Civil War ancestors.


Writers Forum

 On October 1, 2011, CMAAGHS sponsored a Writers Forum featuring a panel discussion by expereinced wrters/genealogists Louis Diggs, Ruth Toliver, Marion Woodfork Simmons and Marvin T. Jones. We had a terrific turnout as the panel discussed their varying experiences publishing books (both hardbound and e-copies) & newspaper articles, building webpages, journaling, documenting local history, blogging and podcasting.

As genealogists, we often spend years researching our family histories. The next step is to document and share it so that our descendants will benefit from all of our hard work. Members were able to pose questions and get answers on the process of writing history. The panelists were encouraging and shared tips on how to get started and the challenges they faced. Our members walked away ready to take the next step in recording their research for posterity.

More on our Panelists:

Recent article on Louis Diggs research efforts

Marion Woodfork Simmons blog on local history research

Marvin Jones website on Chowan local history

National Archives Research Trip

 On April 28, 2011, CMC members visited the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, DC for a lecture and tour focused on the search for pension files. Claire Prechtel-Kluskens, an archivist at NARA gave a lecture entitled, “The Anatomy of a Civil War Pension File”. She was extremely helpful in teaching members how to complete the request forms to view the files.

Thus far, CMC members collectively have identified the pension records of over 20 ancestors who served in the Civil War. On page after page, these records chronicle in detail the struggles of African-American Civil War veterans after emancipation.

CMC does not meet during the summer months, but the hunt for Civil War soldiers resumes in October, 2011. In 2012, we hope to beign the process of compiling soem of their extraordinary stories.

One of our members, Marvin Jones, has already gotten a start and published his article, “Family of Soldiers”, about his Civil War ancestors. A copy can be downbloaded here:


Ancestral Libation Ceremony

Slave Commemoration Scroll

On February 12, 2011, we celebrated our ancestors at a fantastic libation ceremony held at St. John Baptist Church in Columbia, MD. We had a terrific turnout and everyone mingled in African garb, had light drinks and snacks and enjoyed the music from the live band. We watched a “Tribute to Our Ancestors” DVD slideshow developed by our President Alice Harris that turned out to be so popular, we now offer copies for those who make a $20 chapter donation. The DVD is a compilatin of members, friends, documents, songs and activities that captures the journey of our ancestors from Africa to America.

Before the ceremony, we had collected names of our enslaved ancestors and they were printed on the large “scroll”.  Another highlight was the actual blessing and libation ceremony which was performed by a young woman trained in African spiritual practices. Our members also set up tables with information about their research, African artifacts, and other items relevant to african-american history. It was an emotional and wonderful day. It was empowering to see the fruits of our research and we know the ancestors appreciate that we indeed remember them.

Here are a few more pictures, but because we hired a professional photographer, you can also view over 100 more at our Shutterfly account. Use the password: serengeti9800.