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Pasadena-Area African American Genealogical Society Brings Community Members Together

Members enjoying an educational film regarding genealogy. – Photo by Kenya Barrett / Beacon Media News

Genealogy meetings provide individuals with the information and resources to understand their family history

By Kenya Barrett

Were you ever interested in figuring out your family origins? Possibly tracing and locating a distant relative who lived nearby and you had no idea? Well the Pasadena-Area African American Genealogical Society (PAAAGAS) provides assistance in defining some of those blurred lines.

Originally founded in 2007, the organization’s mission was to assist those with the unique challenges of genealogy research for African-Americans. However, as the years progressed, the organization expanded to include any and all people interested in discovering more about their heritage. Founders include Charlotte Bocage and Christina Watkins among others, with local Adrian Foushee heading the monthly meetings at Lamanda Park Library.

A small but astute group of individuals, PAAAGS encourages openness, questions and proactivity within its new attendees and returning members. During the three-hour meeting, returning members greet new members with an introductory speech discussing themselves, their latest findings regarding their family history and suggestions to help other members during their search. While many of the attendees were of African-American decent, others were of European ancestry including Irish and Danish.

Attendees, including organizer Adrian Foushee (right), grabbing snacks before the general discussion. – Photo by Kenya Barrett / Beacon Media News

Adrian Foushee, meeting organizer, became involved with the organization in December 2012 after speaking with a member who shared information regarding a set records in North Carolina. Foushee, of North Carolina descent, was able to use that information to further his research, which inspired him to continue attending the meetings.

“I had been interested in learning about my family history for some time, especially after my father’s death in 2005. I finally reached out for help and sought information from the Pasadena Library services, and they told me about PAAAGS,” says organizer Foushee. “Overtime, I began to learn techniques and especially became interested in DNA research to find living connects and evidence of common ancestors.”

Some of the resources shared through the meetings include links to ancestral databases, informative movies and general discussion on executing methods to obtaining physical evidence. These methods include the discovery of records regarding family churches and cemeteries, marriage licenses, and even slavery documentation. However, discovery can be as simple as taking a DNA test through several genealogical websites including ancestry.com, 23andme.com, and familysearch.org.

A place that encourages and inspires, the PAAAGS meetings occur once a month and are free of cost to those who attend. For those attempting to understand their origins, these gatherings provide assistance and knowledge on how to do so.

“Finding documents like these and analyzing documents for information and new leads is what excites me about learning more,” says Foushee.

For more information about these meetings, visit ww5.cityofpasadena.net. The meetings take place at Lamanda Park Library (140 S. Altadena Dr. Pasadena, CA 91107) on the first Saturday of the month, 2:30-5:30 p.m.

December 6, 2018

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