Monday, September 3, 2012

Images from the FGS Conference in Birminham

Image Courtesy of

The FGS Conference took place last week in Birmingham Alabama and in spite of  recent changes in my own schedule I was able to attend the events although briefly. 

For many, a highlight of such a conference is the chance to visit the exhibit booths to see the vendors and people who had products and services to sell, and also to see the array of organizations that were present. was present and had a chance to share a number of aspects about the website and the African Ancestored Community in general.  

Many of the participating organizations were given space in the exhibit hall as part of the "Society Showcase".

The Society Showcase featured organizations and genealogical entities of all kinds.
(Photo courtesy of )

Several visitors came to the AfriGeneas table to have questions answered.

A Visitor to the AfriGeneas Table

Among the visitors to the Exhibit Hall were also people from the local Birmingham area who heard about the conference on local television and who decided to come and see if they could connect with others and learn.

A Local couple from Birmingham asked questions at the AfriGeneas booth

One visitor to the booth expressed her extreme enthusiasm about attending the event and of meeting AfriGeneas founder, Dr. Valencia King Nelson.

Dr. Valencia K. Nelson (right) and Sedalia Gaines (center) listen to visitor (left( at the AfriGeneas display

A very special event occurred when one visitor stopped by to look at books on display on the AfriGeneas Table. Her ancestors were from North Alabama and the book focused on that part of the state. She carefully began to examine the book.

Visitor examines book on the AfriGeneas table

An entry in the book caught her attention. And what a surprise it was for her to find her ancestors listed! The book was called, Slave Genealogy North Alabama 1865-1874, by Thomas Henry Kinney.

An ancestor found!  The visitor to the booth found one of her ancestors in one of the books on display.

There were many other activities going on in the Exhibit Hall, and for many the first stop was the booth representing the Federation of Genealogical Societies. The several members of the staff were on hand greeting visitors, and all who entered were met with warm smiles, and a genuine spirit of warmth and hospitality.

Visitors were greeted warmly by FGS Directors

There were numbers of large vendors from the online services to the software companies. But in addition there were smaller vendors who offered fascinating services as well. I enjoyed visiting them, and one such company did capture my attention, JustAJoy, a company that focuses on unclaimed heirlooms. If you are one who appreciates antiques of any kind, then this site will be of interest. The site is a membership site where it is best described as a place "where history and heritage meet". Simply put, the site reunites lost heirlooms with the heirs. 

I was also impressed to learn that there among their many treasures one can find artifacts that reflect African Americans families as well. I learned quite a bit by visiting this booth and found Joy, and her husband George to be more than friendly, they were both, "just a joy" to meet.

Joy Shivar of JustAJoy Antiques at the display booth at FGS

Another highlight of the event was the chance to see a representative of ProQuest. ProQuest a company that connects readers with information, is also a partner with AfriGeneas, in the effort to bring forth African American history to an inquiring public. William Forsyth of ProQuest, was present and visited the booth in the Society Showcase. 

Angela Walton-Raji, Valencia K. Nelson, William Forsyth, Sedalia Gaines

In general the atmosphere was a friendly and lively one. Most people who had heard of AfriGeneas came over to say hello, and most who had heard of us in passing also came to extend greetings, and express their interest and support. And the chance for many to meet the AfriGeneas founder, Dr. Valencia King Nelson, was a special treat as she brought her charm, grace and wisdom to Birmingham and made the experience a memorable one.

A small gift from the AfriGeneas Family

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