Community Joins Hands for African-American Family History Open House

SALT LAKE CITY – Bishop Willie Dunn Jr. of the Worldwide Gospel Church will be the keynote speaker at this year’s African-American Family History Open House at the Family History Library on Saturday, 7 February, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

In honor of Black History Month, Bishop Dunn will share his experiences discovering his own family roots. “I would encourage us to talk to our families and keep a record of their stories. Those who came before us are a part of who we are and who we will become. We must preserve their lives, their courage, their faith, their sacrifices, and the rich heritage that is their legacy to us.”

AThe purpose of the open house is to share with the African-American community the tremendous resources available for free at the library to assist them with their family history research,@ said Ray Wright, director of the Family History Library. “This year, we are introducing a new workbook on CD that will outline how to begin recording their roots and how to preserve their valuable family legacy for future generations.”

Family history research can unite families across distances and generations. Referring to one of the excellent resources available at the Family History Library, the Freedman=s Bank Records, Janet Wells, president of the Mid-Pennsylvania NAACP, said: “For young people, this can help bring up their self-esteem. These people from the past will become real. They will become alive, their names will be heard, there will be meat on their bones.

Raymond Cristy, a visitor to last year’s first African-American open house, remarked, “The entire concept is that we are all related.” He said he hoped to provide a linking of “the family that has passed, the family that is before you and the family that is yet to come. The library is the catalyst for that. The people who have learned to use the library have learned how enriching it is to link the past and present.”

The following classes will be taught in the morning beginning at 10:00 a.m. and repeated again in the afternoon beginning at 1:00 p.m.
1. How Do I Start My Family History?
2. Unlocking Your Family History with the U.S. Census
3. Beyond the Basics: Resources for African-American Research

In addition to the classes, library staff and volunteers will be available throughout the day to offer personal assistance to attendees and familiarize them with library resources for African-American research.

All classes and assistance are free, but interested parties are encouraged to preregister by calling 801-240-4950. For a complete schedule of classes, log onto Click on the ALibrary@ tab, then “Education,” then “Family History October 2003 Open House Schedule.” The Family History Library is located at 35 North West Temple Street, directly west of Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.

World-renowned author Alex Haley stated, AIn all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage – to know who we are and where we have come from. Now, with increased access to valuable published and computerized resources, the African-American community can open numerous avenues to expand and preserve their family histories.