Last week I had the distinct honor and privilege of attending the 40th Annual Conference for the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society held in Hyattsville, Maryland. This year I was able to attend all three days of the conference. We actually arrived a day early so we could go to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Now I love museums in general, and I have a special place in my heart for museums dedicated to Black History. So to say that I loved this museum would be an understatement. The museum is huge. It has four levels and goes in chronological order from Slavery and Freedom 1400-1877, Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation 1876-1968, A Changing America 1968 – Beyond. I had very high expectations for this museum, and they were more than met. We spent over four hours at the museum. But back to the AAHGS conference.
The first day of the conference started with a panel discussion with AAHGS Founder, Dr. Elizabeth Lewis-Clark; National President, Gene Stephenson, and National Vice President of History, Ric Murphy. The panel discussed the organization’s past, presence, and future, the importance of the organization being both a historical and genealogical society and the significance of the 400th anniversary of the first documented Africans to America in 1619. After the panel discussion I got the opportunity to talk with Dr. Lewis-Clark, and she remembered me from last year’s conference. She is a brilliant, motivating, encouraging, confident, and forward-thinking woman. I’m so glad that she took the time to talk with me.
There were four break out sessions held on Thursday for attendees. I attended New Members/First Time Attendees presented by Dr. Shelley Murphy known as ‘familytreegirl‘ on social media. I have followed Dr. Murphy’s blog and on social media for a few years now. So I must admit I chose this session because she was the presenter, and she didn’t disappoint. She held a causal but knowledgeable open discussion with us about the history of the organization, what to expect from the conference, session selection, and general genealogy research information. The session was very interactive between her and the attendees, and even though this wasn’t my first conference nor am I a new AAHGS member, I got a lot out of this session. Not to mention I got to spend an hour listening to Dr. Shelley Murphy give all kinds of genealogy gems and tips.
Following the breakout sessions, there was a State of the Society meeting where National President, Gene Stephenson discussed the hard work of the national executive board, chapter presidents, and the conference host chapter that made this conference possible. He also discussed the importance of the everyday work of the organization and members. Next was the 2019 AAHGS International Book Awards Ceremony and Opening Reception. It was at the reception that I met one of my blog subscribers, Brenda. She was my very first subscriber whose last name isn’t Mays or Cummings. So when she commented on one of my blogs that she would be attending the AAHGS conference, I was super excited to meet her. We hugged and it was like seeing an old friend.
I didn’t realize that today was such a long day until I got back to the hotel room. My husband and I are members of the National AAHGS Social Media Committee, so I was attending for both my own personal genealogy growth and also as a member of that committee to capture moments from the conference to share on our social media pages. So we were doing a lot of running around helping getting the rooms for the break out sessions set up, taking pictures, and recording videos. It may have been a long day, but it got me so excited about the next two days of the conference had in store for me.
Click HERE to read about Day 2 AAHGS 2019 Conference