We celebrate history, the best kind: “Family” history. And the Discover Your Roots Missouri conference has its beginnings linked to one very proud family and St. Louis legacy, Dred and Harriet Scott.
In 2007, area institutions that support black family research partnered together to bring about the first conference in honor of Dred and Harriet Scott in conjunction with the Dred Scott 150th commemoration (see http://www.thedredscottfoundation.org/). Julius K. Hunter, founder of the Julius K. Hunter and Friends African American Family Research Collection at the St. Louis County Library, lent his support to the first conference by being the keynote speaker. Over 220 attended the first conference offering an unprecedented gathering of resources to help African Americans trace their roots.
We were especially touched by the spirit of the conference that acknowledged the importance and the richness of the African American experience in the context of family.
“Family”, while being a central theme of the conference was also felt in some very special ways. At least six conference attendees met cousins they had never met before. One person visited the displays by the Booker T. Washington cemetery and on the spot she found amongst the records her Grandmother’s grave. Such take-aways from a conference are priceless. Others at the conference benefited by listening and mingling with the experts and amateurs alike. The more mingling, the more people learned. In fact this was the number one feedback we received. So we are continuing to encourage mingling by providing more opportunities to engage the experts through displays and classes.
We also are increasing the pool of experts by the support of the Missouri History Museum and the Missouri State Archives. Because of this expanded reach, we are now calling our conference Discover Your Roots “Missouri”.
We can spend a lot of time on the web and in libraries to trace our ancestors. But sometimes we hit a brick wall that can only be climbed with the help of the experts. Now help is readily available for everyone at this FREE conference, thanks to the generosity of the sponsors.
We invite you to come Discover Your Roots with the help of some friends!
May God bless your family.
Stephanie Phillips, Heather Bullard and Dana King
Co-Chairs, Discover Your Roots Missouri 2009