The University of West Alabama’s Black Belt Archives and the Marengo County History and Archives Museum will present the “Genealogy through the Ages” conference Oct. 1-3 at the Bell Conference Center.

“Genealogy through the Ages is a conference dedicated to discussing the local genealogical resources accessible for those people researching their ancestors in the Black Belt region, west Alabama, and east Mississippi,” said Amy Christiansen, archivist at the Center for the Study of the Black Belt.

“The purpose of the conference is to create a local public forum where professionals and amateurs in the field can come together to learn and facilitate dialogue in order to help each other find genealogical records,” said Christiansen.

Christiansen said that the three-day conference, co-sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, will host an array of speakers and panels covering topics such as genealogy basics, DNA research, and family storytelling as well as unconventional genealogical research methods such as military and church records.

“The speakers and panels will discuss a wide range of available research modes for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced genealogist,” said Christiansen. “Attendees can expect to learn a variety of methods to researching their family history.”

The three-day conference will start on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 5 p.m. featuring a presentation by Dr. Alan Brown on his book, “Sumter County,” and a storytelling presentation by Deborah Rankins Tunstall.

Dr. Donna Cox Baker from the Alabama Bicentennial Commission will give the keynote address on Saturday, Oct. 2, followed by individual sessions by Patricia Coleman of the Family History Center, Mary Jones-Fitts of the Marengo County History and Archives Museum, Andrea Abernathy and Vanessa Nicholson from Judson College, and B.J. Smothers from the Black Belt African American Genealogical and Historical Society.

The final day of the conference will feature a special session on military records by Robert Davis of Wallace State Community College and a panel session titled “Born, Married, Died and Buried” presented by Father Richard Losch of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Livingston.

“The speakers range in background from university professors, library staff, university archivists, folk tellers, museum directors, genealogical and historical society members, community college professors, church record managers, state archivists, and local genealogists,” said Christiansen. “The speakers come from all over the state of Alabama, but the majority of speakers are from the Black Belt region.”

Other speakers will include Liz Wells and Jennifer Taylor from Samford University, Mary Jo Scott from the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Karen Horton, the Archdiocese of Mobile, and Carolyn Bell from the First United Methodist Church Demopolis. The conference will conclude with a tour of three historic churches in Downtown Livingston.

“I expect attendees to take away new modes for conducting genealogical research as well as learn about other places, people and institutions in the Black Belt region and Alabama,” said Christiansen.

The deadline for registration is Friday, Sept. 25. The registration form is available at http://centerfortheblackbelt.org, and the registration fee is $50. Open registration will also be available at the conference on Thursday, Oct. 1.

For more information, contact Amy Christiansen at (205)652-3655 or through email at achristiansen@uwa.edu or Mary Jones-Fitts at (334)341-3439 or through email at marengomuseum@yahoo.com.

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