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AfriGeneas News & Announcements
January 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

House Passes Bill to Preserve Family Records of Descendants of Slaves

Monday, January 22, 2007

Washington, DC – The House of Representatives has passed legislation by Congressman Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo, San Francisco) to ensure that many of the genealogical records involving the families of former slaves in this country will be preserved, catalogued and digitized for easy access for researchers.

“The federal and local records covered by this legislation are not only of personal importance to the families involved,” Lantos said in a speech on the House floor. “They are also historically significant to us all. They document the reuniting of our nation and the historic moment of transition for slaves from the status of property to citizens, a time when our country finally began to right a horrible moral wrong. We need to take the process another step now, by ensuring that those records and the lessons they hold are preserved for all eternity.”

The Lantos legislation, the Preservation of Records of Servitude, Emancipation, and Post-Civil War Reconstruction Act (H.R 390) builds on the foundation of the Freedmen’s Bureau Records Preservation Act, which was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate in 2000 and which became Public Law 106-444. That law required the Archivist of the United States to create a searchable indexing system to catalogue the genealogical records from the post-Civil War Reconstruction period.

“For most Americans, researching their genealogical history involves searching through various historical records, almost all of which have been properly archived as public historical documents,” Lantos noted. “Unfortunately, African Americans face a unique challenge due to our nation’s history of discrimination and slavery. Instead of simply looking up wills, birth and death certificates, or other traditional genealogical research documents, African Americans are forced to identify the names of former slave owners, and then hope that these owners kept accurate records of pertinent property, tax, and probate information.”

H.R. 390 will augment the already highly useful catalogue created by the National Archives to protect countless other critically important historic documents. The bill directs the National Archives to preserve additional post-Civil War Reconstruction records. It also establishes a grant program for the Archivist to work with various states, universities, colleges, and genealogical institutions to establish digitized databases so that anyone in this country will have access to these treasure troves of information.

The bill passed by a vote of 414-1. The complete text of Mr. Lantos’ remarks is below.

Read the rest of the story . . .

Source: Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA)

Posted by Staff on 1/24/07 at 6:19 am EST

Sunday, January 21, 2007

ProQuest Adds Two Important Black Newspapers to ProQuest Historical Newspapers

New York Amsterdam News and Pittsburgh Courier Provide Unique Cultural Perspective of Events that Shaped the 20th Century

SEATTLE, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This summer, ProQuest Information and Learning is introducing the New York Amsterdam News and Pittsburgh Courier to its growing collection of ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Historical Newspapers users can research events that shaped the United States, including the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights Movement, through the voice of two widely circulated Black newspapers. These titles may also be accessed through ProQuest Black Studies Center, allowing cross-searching with other content sets focused on the African-American experience.

"These titles are invaluable for any scholar studying American history and African-American culture, history, politics and art," said Rod Gauvin, senior vice president of ProQuest Information and Learning. "These additions will open up new areas of research and offer vital comparison of news stories from New York Amsterdam News and Pittsburgh Courier with the other national newspapers and publications."

Both the New York Amsterdam News and Pittsburgh Courier served as influential voices of the black community throughout the 20th century. New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993), a leading Black newspaper of the 20th century, was a strong advocate for the desegregation of the U.S. military during World War II, and also covered the historic Harlem Renaissance. The Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002), one of the most nationally circulated Black newspapers, reached its peak in the 1930s. A conservative voice in the African-American community, the Courier challenged the misrepresentation of African-Americans in the national media and advocated social reforms to advance the cause of civil rights.

The New York Amsterdam News and Pittsburgh Courier are available through ProQuest Historical Newspapers. The ProQuest Historical Newspapers program encompasses newspapers with deep historical value for researchers in various fields. The New York Amsterdam News and Pittsburgh Courier will join other prestigious U.S. newspapers already in the ProQuest program: The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Constitution, The Boston Globe, The Hartford Courant, The New York Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, and The Christian Science Monitor. All of the newspapers are cross-searchable within the award-winning ProQuest interface.

The new titles are also available through the Black Studies Center, published by ProQuest's Chadwyck-Healey brand, allowing cross- searching with other content sets focused on the African-American experience. Black Studies Center is a digital resource that creates a framework for undergraduate and graduate level Black Studies courses and filling information gaps that have stymied research and study. Black Studies Center provides a central point of access to the most sought-after documents that chronicle and analyze the Black experience.

Source: PR Newswire

Posted by Staff on 1/21/07 at 5:02 am EST

Friday, January 05, 2007

Melvin J. CollierMelvin J. Collier Receives the AfriGeneas Volunteer of the Year Award

AfriGeneas is pleased to announce that Melvin J. Collier has been selected as the first AfriGeneas Volunteer of the Year.

"AfriGeneas is fortunate to have so many talented individuals working together to make AfriGeneas the premier African American genealogy website so the choice wasn't easy," said AfriGeneas founder Valencia King Nelson. "But after much discussion," she added, "one person emerged as the exemplar of dedication, hard work, consistency and creativity during 2006."

Melvin built the AfriGeneas Family Reunions community from the ground up and has continued to make the AfriGeneas Family Reunion Primer the number one African American Family Reunion site. During 2006, he made the Precious Photos Collection a reality. After only six months, the archive is already a huge success and now contains over 350 photos. Melvin has also served as an enthusiastic ambassador and spokesperson for AfriGeneas. He has risen to the occasion when referred by the AfriGeneas staff and on his own has sought and created opportunities to promote AfriGeneas in addition to his own endeavors.

We feel honored to have Melvin as part of our team.

The AfriGeneas Staff

Posted by
Staff on 1/05/07 at 8:42 am EST

6 Jul 2003 | 08 Feb 2007
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