Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Happy Juneteenth!!!!

On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. But the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. In 1980 Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition.  Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. 

Over the years Juneteenth has been celebrated with a wide range of activities such as rodeos, fishing, barbecuing, family reunions, special church services, and baseball games just to name a few. Juneteenth also focuses on education and self-improvement. Guest speakers are brought to celebrations and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations. Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.

When I think of Juneteenth, I always wonder where were my ancestors when they heard the news?  How did they hear the news? Were they overjoyed or confused?  Did they plan on staying where they were or did they plan on leaving to find family lost during slavery or make a new life for themselves?  Juneteenth is celebrated all over the country throughout the month of June.  I usually spend June 19 researching my family history and reflecting on my ancestor's stories.  My community has a Juneteenth celebration on the fourth Saturday of every June that I attend.  

How do you celebrate Juneteenth?  Let us know about your community Juneteenth celebrations.  We would love for you to share your  Juneteenth pictures and stories with us.

Written by
AAHGS Member and Blogger
Trisha Mays-Cummings

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Did Grandpa Work for the Railroad?

In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to dedicate this blog to all the African American men that worked for the railroad system. The U.S. railroad system is second only to the United States government in the employment of African American men.  America’s first steam locomotive made its debut in 1830, and over the next two decades railroad tracks linked many cities on the East Coast. By 1850, some 9,000 miles of track had been laid east of the Missouri River. Hundreds of thousands of enslaved men were used for the labor of these railroad tracks.  The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 chartered the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroad Companies.  Following the end of the Civil War many African American men continued to work on this project connecting the east and west.

In the early 20th century there were many railroad companies such as Northern Pacific Railway Company, Kansas City Southern Railroad Company, Missouri Union Pacific Railroad Company, Norfolk Southern, and the Pullman Car Company.  All of these companies continued to employee African American men for various jobs including carpenter, painter, car oiler, baggage handler, porter, and blacksmith.  Because of these small and larger railroads across the U.S. there are some very valuable employee records that can assist with genealogy and family history research.  While some records may have been lost or destroyed, many records were archived and are available to the public.  

Employee records can provide the employees' full name, birth date, address, name of a close relative (for emergencies), tenure of employment, and job title.  Also included would be pension applications, pension appeals, and accident or incident reports.

Do you have a relative that worked for the railroad?  Have you been able to find some interesting documents about the railroad in your research?  Please let us know how you found your information.  We would love to hear about who worked for the railroad in your family!  

Railroad Retirement Board 

A name index to the pension files

Railway and Locomotive Historical Society 

Newberry Library large collection of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, Illinois Central, Pullman Company, etc.  

National Archives and Records Administration 

Slavery and Southern Railroads 

Written by:
Trisha Mays-Cummings, AAHGS Member and Blogger

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

AAHGS at RootsTech 2019

RootsTech is the largest genealogy conference in the world. This conference is held annually in February in Salt Lake City, Utah. The 2019 conference was held February 27 - March 2. RootsTech offers over 300 sessions on topics such as methodology, DNA, writing, and technology - just to name a few.  The conference also has an expo hall full of vendors with everything from DNA kits to t-shirts and pedigree charts to books and everything in between for sale. Also, in the expo hall, genealogy societies are there to be a resource for family historians of all levels of expertise. We're excited that AAHGS was able to be a RootsTech sponsor for 2019!

AAHGS started the conference off with a welcome luncheon on that Wednesday. The mayor of Salt Lake City, state representatives, and the local Utah chapter of AAHGS were present.  The general session was held on Wednesday, and one of the presenters was Michael B. Moore, CEO of the International African American Museum. There he told his story of learning about his family history and his trip to Africa. Also, during the general session, the Church of Latter-Day Saints presented a donation for 2 million dollars to Michael B. Moore and the International African American Museum, with the AAHGS national leadership on stage with him as he accepted the donation.

Every time I walked by the booth in the expo hall there were always people around and at the booth looking for information on how to research their family history, asking questions about 1619, and just generally curious about the organization. The Utah chapter members along with some of the national officers were always present to help answer questions. AAHGS' Vice President of History, Ric Murphy, also taught a session on the 400th commemoration of the First Africans in British North America.

As RootsTech continues to grow, so will AAHGS’ presence there. The next conference will be held February 26-29, 2020. So, mark your calendars and while there don’t forget to stop by the AAHGS booth and say hello! Be sure to let us know that you read about the conference on our blog! 

Written by AAHGS member and blogger
Trisha Mays-Cummings

Monday, January 21, 2019


We honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today and always. How will you impact the world today? #AAHGS #MLK #livewithpurpose#makeadifference

Check out this link from the Corporation for National & Community Service on ways you can give back today.

Friday, January 18, 2019

International AAHGS Book Awards: FAQ's

As you're preparing your entries for the 2019 International AAHGS Book Awards, we thought it would be helpful to outline some frequently asked questions to help you prepare. Don't forget that entries must received by May 1, 2019! You can find the list of frequently asked questions below and can also find more information on our website. 

Why should I enter the International AAHGS Book Awards?
Our contest is an opportunity to:
  • Receive appropriate recognition and acclaim for your hard work
  • Increase your book’s visibility on a global platform
  • Receive free promotion of your work to targeted audiences
  • Receive broader promotion of yourself as an author
What specific benefits will Winners and Finalists receive?
  • Obtain listing in the Book Awards Catalog that is distributed to thousands of educators, librarians, historians, book buyers, media, and others!
  • Enjoy exposure as a Winner or Finalist on AAHGS website.
  • Gain right to display Finalist or Winner Gold Award Stickers on your book.
Who is eligible to apply?
  • Anyone, regardless of race or national origin, who has authored a book covering African American history, family history and genealogy.  Books may be submitted by the author or by an authorized agent.
  • All books must have an ISBN, published between 2013 and 2017, and be written in English.
  • All submissions must be sent electronically.
How many different book titles may I enter?
There is no limit to the number of titles you can enter. Each title will be judged individually and separately.
How many categories may I enter per title?
You may enter as many categories as you like per title. We recommend selecting the categories you wish to enter based on those that most apply to your book or to your marketing strategies.
When will I be notified if my book has been selected as a Finalist or Winner?
Winners and Finalists will be announced and notified by the end of June, enabling awardees the opportunity to make arrangements to attend the Award Gala in the fall.
Will I be notified even if I don't win or do not place as a Finalist?
No.   Only Winners and Finalists will be notified of their Winner or Finalist status, however, a complete list of Winners and Finalists will be available to view online by the end of July.
If my book is not chosen, may I get feedback from the judges on my book?
We are sorry but our judges are all volunteers with heavy schedules that will not allow them time to provide that service to you.
Will I/we know who the judges are/were?
Judges names will not be posted due to confidentially and to ensure the integrity of the competition. Judges decisions are final.
Is there a time frame for date of book publication ...or can I enter my book from 1962?
The time frame for the 2018 award cycle is books with a publication date of 2012 - 2017.  Your work must be an active publication on Amazon.
May I enter a self-published book?
Yes, if your book is an active publication on Amazon, you may still apply. 
Who were some of your previous winners?
Please go to the following site: ...more info
How will books be judged?
Books will be judged in five areas: book cover, book content/readability, book organization, book presentation and the overall message conveyed in the book.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The International AAHGS Book Awards

The International AAHGS Book Awards is a competitive contest established to recognize,promote and honor authors of high quality publications that accurately examine and portray African-ancestored family history and genealogy in a wide variety of genres both fiction and non-fiction, for adults and young readers.    

The Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) takes great pride in sponsoring this book Awards program as part of its mission to document and disseminate research to all sectors of the American population on the history, struggles, and contributions of African Americans from Jamestown to the present. While film and video are vastly popular, books remain the primary and definitive locus and resource for the recording and teaching of history and genealogy especially in educational settings.

Click here to learn more!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Join Us!

If you'd like to partner with a great organization that is doing great work in the Afro-American Community, we invite you to join AAHGS! You can learn more about membership and easily join or renew with the link below!

AAHGS Membership

Sunday, January 6, 2019


Welcome! It's a new year and we've launched our new blog! We are glad that you have taken an interest in learning more about our organization! We hope that you will partner with us on various activities and other initiatives as we work to preserve and promote Afro-American history and genealogy! Make sure to subscribe to our blog to stay up to date!

Happy Juneteenth!!!!

On June 19, 1865 Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended ...