Saturday, February 23, 2019

Utilizing Online Databases

Links for genealogy databases,

ü Newport News Public Library, Virginiana Collection at Main Street branch, (Access to available to library card holders at all Newport News library locations,
ü Hampton Public Library, Virgininia Collection at Main branch on Victoria Blvd,
ü Norfolk Public Library, Sargeant Memorial Room, downtown Norfolk branch,
ü York County Public Library, Virginiana Collection
ü The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia,
ü LDS Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Morman), 902 Denbigh Blvd., Newport News, VA  23608,  (757) 874-2335.  Can view digitized genealogy records only available for viewing at Family History Centers.

Black History Month Genealogy Conference

I am pleased to announce that I am one of the speakers for the African American Cultural and Genealogy Conference which will be held today, Saturday February 23, 2019, at the Newport News, Virginia Main Street Library. I will conduct a workshop entitled "Utilizing Online Databases" and will also be one of the panelist on the "Breaking Through the Wall" panel discussion.

Genealogy 102: Utilizing Online Databases
Drusilla Pair, Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society
Once you have your ancestors organized, explore and learn to use vital and historical records available online. At the end of this session, participants will have an understanding of how to search census, military, and vital records on various Internet databases such as and  

Breaking through the Wall- Panel discussion w/ Researchers Stephanie Thomas, Selma Stewart, Deborah Cuffy, and Drusilla Pair
If you are stuck or having trouble finding your ancestors who lived before 1870, join this in-depth discussion. Learn techniques from a panel of experienced genealogy researchers about how to break through the difficulties that limit your search for ancestors in the pre-Civil War era. This session is intended for intermediate and advanced researchers.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sacred Sunday: When the Church Rocks

Editor's Note: Blog originally posted Sunday, October 24, 2010; revised Sunday, January 6, 2019.

This video of Queen Esther White Young singing the song “If Jesus Goes With Me, I Can Go Anywhere” at the Tabernacle Echoes Grand Reunion Concert stirs up so many images and stories of the rich tradition of African American gospel music and choirs.

Uncle Willie Johnson (1917-2000)
Uncle Willie's Stories. Although the speed of this song is not extremely fast, but rather a slow-medium speed, it  reminds me of stories I heard from my Uncle Willie Johnson (1917-2000), a brother of my maternal grandmother Emma Johnson Thornton (1922-2011). In describing the church services of his youth during the 1920s and 1930s in Warren County, North Carolina, Uncle Willie enthusiastically recalled the days of his family’s church when there was no piano or musical instruments. “As we walked through the woods towards the church, you could hear the church rocking and the Saints of God singing and clapping and praising God!” he recalled. “Then we would walk or run a little faster to get to church.” These were also the days when rural churches typically had wood floors, so I’m sure Uncle Willie also heard foot tapping along with the singing and hand clapping.

The Choir Rock. One thing I noticed in this video which stirs up memories is the choir rocking from side to side in unison to the beat of the music. Sometimes a Choir Director gestures to the choir which direction to begin moving. At other times, some choir members may just begin moving to the music on their own. This takes me back to my days singing in the church and college gospel choirs during the 1970s and 1980s.

The Choir’s Attire. I knew this had to be a special occasion concert just by looking at the attire of the choir members with the ladies all dressed beautifully in various styles of  black dresses accessorized with a red flower, white beaded necklace and earrings, and the men dressed in black suits with white shirts and red ties. The red flowers and red ties are the accessories which make these various styles of dresses and suits look uniform.

The Soloist. Sister Queen works this song and I love it when she comes down into the church aisle. You can hear and feel the electricity in the audience as she walks down the aisle bellowing this great tune. As the music gets faster and the hand clapping gets louder, members of the congregation feel compelled to stand, which is a tradition in the black church when the music gets good. Oh, the church is ROCKING now! This is the point where my mind drifts back to Uncle Willie’s recollections of the church rocking during his youth as I sit in front of my computer singing, clapping and swaying from side to side in my chair enjoying this music and letting my mind travel down memory lane.