October brings an exciting first in African-American genealogical history. The International Black Genealogy Summit (IBGS) Oct. 29-31 at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., will be the first mass gathering of all black historical and genealogical societies in the US, Canada and the Caribbean.
“Pulling all the black genealogy societies together has never been done,” says conference co-chair Algurie Wilson. “We’ve all met in our own backyards, but not together. But I’ve got people coming from everywhere.”
IBGS kicks off with a free Thursday pre-conference with workshops, a movie, and extended research hours. Friday and Saturday will be packed with lectures, exhibitors, vendors, and social time (download the schedule here).
“In the workshops, we’ll be talking about all the genealogical resources we have,” says Wilson. “But besides the workshops, there’s great camaraderie. I’m especially looking forward to the banquet and luncheon. We’re encouraging African attire. There will be so many beautiful colors. The atmosphere in the room will just be bubbling. I’m also getting an African dance troupe—nobody knows about that yet! I can’t wait to hear the keynote speakers, too.”
Friday evening’s speaker will be Dorothy Spruill Redford, author and nationally recognized interpreter of the African family experience in the South. Hana Stith, curator of the African/African-American Historical Museum in Fort Wayne, will speak at a Saturday luncheon.
Wilson has been encouraged by enthusiastic response despite the difficult economy. “When I talk to someone on the phone and hear their excitement, I realize this is why we’re doing it. I’ve got someone coming on the bus for 17 hours. I’m going to buy that person a drink! That tells you how important it is for us to put this event on.”
To Wilson, this event is all about people—both past and present. “I tell new researchers, ‘You want to talk to the person next to you. You might find someone looking for the same family tree. You never know what you can discover and more importantly, who you can discover.'”
If you’re interested in attending IBGS, visit the conference registration page for more information.