Holocaust Museum hosts workshop to help search for lost relatives after emancipation for Black History Month

Unidentified African American soldier in Union uniform with wife and two daughters Library of Congress (Holocaust Museum Houston)

HOUSTON – In celebration of Black History Month, a local museum will offer tips, resources and records for locating African American ancestors, according to a release.

The Holocaust Museum will host the “Genealogy Workshop: The Search for Lost Relatives after Emancipation” on Feb. 11 in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater.

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The museum will explore the practice of formerly enslaved people writing letters to the Freedmen’s Bureau and placing ads in newspapers hoping to reconnect with family after Emancipation. These ads aim to convey the heartbreak, desperation, hope and determination to locate and reunite with family members.

Each session is set to highlight different experiences and offer tips, resources and records for locating African American ancestors.

Session 1: Diane L. Richard, MEng & MBA, is a professional genealogical researcher, author and lecturer from North Carolina. She specializes in pursuing formerly enslaved ancestors and their descendants, using genealogical research tips, techniques, tools, strategies and under-utilized resource collections.

Session 2: Houstonians Kelley Dixon-Tealer and her mother Alva Marie Jenkins will discuss revelations of their ancestor featured in the documentary “A Dream Delivered: The Lost Letters of Hawkins Wilson.”

Session 3: Using available records and resources, members of the AAHGS Willie Lee Gay H-Town Chapter will assist Dixon-Tealer and Jenkins to track Hawkins Wilson and his children Osborne and Cyrilla after their move from Galveston to Houston in the mid-1880s. Both women will also discuss locating ancestors and living descendants.

The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Registration begins at 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the museum.

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