Meeting to Establish a Black MS Genealogical Society Set for Feb. 19

A group of volunteers and genealogy enthusiasts will meet to gauge interest in the establishment of a state African American genealogical society.

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The meeting will take place Saturday, February 19, at 11 am at The William F. Winter Archives and History Building, 200 North Street, Jackson (subject to change).

Researching one’s African American ancestors often comes with challenges. A researcher must become familiar with probate records, deed records, state and federal Census records, and plantation ledgers.

A genealogical society could assist and encourage Black Mississippians to think outside the box as they negotiate slavery’s legacy to find and name their ancestors. A society could also connect more closely with other societies across the midwest.

Currently, Mississippi does not have an African American genealogy society, which the Gulf Coast's Sun Herald mentions in this article. The purpose of such societies is to encourage African American family research and to connect individuals interested in genealogy with the vast resources available across the state.

“There are many people with a desire to trace their family history, but who don’t know where to start,” said meeting organizer Joyce Dixon-Lawson. “Creating a genealogical society could be a tool to address this issue and an opportunity to grow the genealogical community. I always recommend that people start by gathering information at home and from family members.”

Dixon-Lawson, who recently retired, had been on staff at the state department of archives and history for more than thirty years. She received her BA and MA in history from Jackson State University. She has led numerous introductory genealogy, African American genealogy, and Native American genealogy workshops in Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, and Indiana.