Workshop to help explore genealogy

Published 10:28 pm Tuesday, February 16, 2016

B.J. Smothers, founder of the Black Belt African American Genealogical and Historical Society, said her organization believes people don’t know who they are until they know where they come from.

On Saturday, Smothers is offering citizens around the Black Belt area an opportunity to learn how to find out that information.

The Black Belt African American Genealogical and Historical Society is hosting its 10th annual Black Belt Genealogy Conference Saturday at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library, located at 1103 Selma Ave., from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The conference is free to attend.

Email newsletter signup

Throughout the day, there will be four workshop topics. The day is split into morning and afternoon. In the morning, attendees will learn about genealogy and how to research ancestry.

In the afternoon, attendees will be taught about the history of genealogy.

The first session at 10 a.m., taught by Elvin Lang, is titled “Genealogy 101” and will give background information and basics on how to start or continue with researching genealogy.

“It’s just going to be the basics,” Smothers said. “You know you want to do it, but you don’t know how to. Anybody who’s interested can get a lot of information out of that.”

The second session will start roughly an hour later and is called “Barking Up the Wrong Tree.”

It will be taught by another expert genealogist, Mary Jones-Fitts.

Smothers said the second session will be a good follow-up to the introductory course.

“Hers will be some of the problems that you encounter as you go into your research,” Smothers said.

After an hour lunch break, conference attendees will learn about the history behind genealogy.

The first history session, taught by Shari Williams, will begin at 1 p.m. and is titled “How Self-Determination in the Black Belt Ignited Educational Opportunity During the Jim Crow Period.”

The day will conclude with a session led by Donald Stone called “The Simpsons of Wilcox County, Alabama. Impact on Negro Rural Education.”

“Anyone who’s interested in tracing their family history can get a lot out of this,” Smothers said.

Registration for the conference opens Saturday at 9:30 a.m. For more information, visit or contact Smothers at (404) 273-6965.

About Justin Fedich

Staff writer for The Selma Times-Journal.

email author More by Justin