Do you ever sit at your kitchen table, trying to organize all the miscellaneous bits of information you’ve managed to gather about your family tree? Have you ever hit a “brick wall” in your research, not sure where to turn to fill in more pieces of the puzzle? Or maybe you’re someone who’s always wanted to learn more about your family history and genealogy, but were never quite sure where to start. Well, there’s a local resource you can turn to … the Peoria County Genealogical Society.
For almost fifty years, the PCGS has been answering these very same questions for family historians all across Peoria County. And, if you’re just hearing about this organization for the first time, PCGS is sponsoring a free event that you won’t want to miss.
On Thursday, November 11 at 6:00 p.m., internationally known genealogist and founder of The Center for Black Genealogy, Tony Burroughs, will present a program called “Tracing the African American Family Tree.” Burroughs is the noted author of Black Roots: A Beginner’s Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree (Simon & Schuster, 2001), which reached number one on Essence magazine’s best seller list and is now in its fifth printing. Burroughs has researched Olympic Gold Medal sprint champion Michael Johnson’s family history and consulted on the Smokey Robinson genealogy, the Oprah Winfrey genealogy, the Reverend Al Sharpton-Strom Thurmond genealogy, the PBS series African American Lives 2, the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are, and Discovery Channel’s The Real Family of Jesus; he has also consulted with Chicago Public Schools, New York Public Schools, Chicago City Colleges, and Ancestry.com. For fifteen years, Burroughs taught genealogy at Chicago State University.
Hosted by the Peoria County Genealogical Society, “Tracing the African American Family Tree” is open to the public and free of charge, with the option to attend either in person or remotely via Zoom. For those wishing to join us in person and meet other local genealogists, Burroughs will present his program from Chicago via live video on the big screen at Peoria Public Library North Branch (3001 West Grand Parkway; PCGS will follow all library protocols for group meetings, so please watch for Covid updates in the event that public meetings become restricted). For those who would prefer to view from home, the program will also be available for remote viewing on your home computer via Zoom (to register, visit peoriacountygenealogy.org and click on the meeting link).
“Tracing the African American Family Tree” with Tony Burroughs will prove an insightful experience in providing research tips and sharing resources, both for the family historian just getting started in his or her hunt for the past—as well as the genealogist who has already amassed boxes and boxes of family research. Yes, exploring your roots allows you to gather information about ancestors and learn about the past, but it can also instill pride, add to the historical record, and maybe even identify a few unknown family heroes.
The Peoria County Genealogical Society is always looking for new members, and attending any of its numerous free programs is a great way to get to know PCGS. Every PCGS member becomes part of an active and engaged community of family historians—with monthly educational programs, small Special Interest Groups, a monthly subscription to PCGS News, two annual issues of Prairie Roots magazine, and access to a substantial archives of records, files, and publications on Passport, the members-only section of the PCGS website. In addition, the Society provides the opportunity to volunteer on local preservation projects and connect with others interested in genealogy and local history. Membership in PCGS is offered at $25 a year, with lower rates for seniors. To learn more, visit peoriacountygenealogy.org or email Elizabeth Klise firstname.lastname@example.org.