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U. S. African American Griots Founders

 

Charee Harvey

Website Coordinator

 

My name is Charee Jackson Harvey. I have always had an interest in my family’s humble beginnings. It was inspired by my Great Grandmother Chaney McDuffie who was born in  Georgia in March of 1868. Family members would talk about her long beautiful hair and her love for the children in the family as well as her being born the day after her parents were freed. I was fortunate to spend time with her before she died in March of 1963.

 

It was years after before I decided to work on building the family’s lineage. When I decided to, I had no idea of where to begin so I naturally started with those that I knew. By the time my daughter left home and my son went to the military I had acquired the skill of asking questions. Questions, that only peaked my curiosity more. When I discovered the magical world of the internet, I knew I had arrived. I learned to surf, search, and finally to email. What a concept.

 

Since my journey with Genealogy began in 1992 I have managed to build a lineage of over 3700 strong. Others may boast more but for me as an African American, I feel proud of my accomplishment. I learned early that without sources my research was useless so of course they had to be included which opened me to knowledge of my heritage which truly amazed me.

 

My journey reached a milestone when I made a trip to Georgia and surveyed a cemetery which I wrote about and submitted to Rootsweb Review. They published the article and a couple of years later Reunions Magazine asked my permission to publish the same article. I have surveyed cemeteries, traveled to courthouses in other States, spent numerous hours in libraries as well as on the internet in my quest to search my roots.

 

I never knew much about the Jackson side of my family except for them being from the State of Kentucky. I learned of them thru a sequence of events at a time that was very unexpected. Today I know more than I ever thought was possible through the wonderful world of Genealogy. When I started my research on my Jackson family,  I made trips to Kentucky especially with research in mind since the family moved to other areas. My Great-Great Grandfather Thomas Jackson was born in Bourbon Co., Kentucky. He had a total of 15 children. The last family member that I know of from Bourbon County passed in 2004.  I was fortunate enough  to interview her before her passing. The interview was a very important one considering she was the last of her generation. Today my research is focused on finding Thomas Jackson's siblings and other related family members from Bourbon and surrounding counties.

 

In 2004, I was fortunate enough to meet Jerry Taylor. She posted to a message board that I administer; we have been friends ever since. When I met her she was in the process of building a website for a County in which her interest lie. I agreed to help her with the African American portion of her website and from there “Kentucky African American Griot's” was born. The union we have formed has been one of friendship and love. I remember when we started talking about this project. I knew I wanted to be a part of it but Jerry must have thought I was taking too long so she said she would start without me. Of course I couldn’t let that happen.

 

Today Kentucky African American Griot's has turned out to be an important part of both of us. After working with Jerry to make the Kentucky website a site worth searching, the decision was made to work on other states.  From this decision  "U.S. (United States) African American Griots" was created. With very little knowledge of web-design, some data for particular parts of Georgia and Florida, and very few resources for states outside of my family research, I knew this would a challenge. We worked and continue to work diligently to better this site.  Since starting U.S. African American Griots in late October, I have encountered trials and errors in web-design and have come to realize more than ever how scarce African American resources are.

 

The scarcity of our resources is the primary reason this site has been created. The goals today are the same as they were when KY African American Griots was started; to become a repository for African American genealogy and history.  Since starting this site I have become the administrator of four African American message boards, done census lookups and assisted other researchers in their research. I am also working with a friend whose interested in starting a genealogy column in his local newspaper.

 

My personal dream is for each state to be represented and for each state to have its own coordinators as well as having the African American culture and traditions represented. I would also like to see the site become a valuable tool for students researching African Americans. I have requested approval from USGenWeb to become a member of their family which will open doors for other researchers to join in on the project.

 

My dream and Jerry's of what U.S. African American Griots should be is a work in progress and will take time to develop as well as participation from other researchers of African American genealogy and history. This is why contributions are so important. Visitors to the site have been generous with their materials and they are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your contributions to this project and please continue to contribute and visit.

 

Thank you for taking the time to find out who I am and enjoy the site.

Cha

 

 

Jerry Taylor

Project Associate

My journey into genealogy began in 1983 at the request of my grandmother in hopes of learning more about the paternal side of my family, who were from the mountains of southeastern Kentucky.  I was born there and it is where I lived until an early age, when we then moved to the Bluegrass Region of the state.  All of my roots are tied to the hills and hollows of southeast Kentucky and it is the foundation for all that I am today. 

Since beginning genealogy, I have done extensive research on my lineage and two years ago I published a book documenting my families heritage.  The majority of my family research was done the old fashioned way with lots of legwork, which included countless hours at the KY Department of Archives and the KY History Center.  I was slow to learn about the "information highway" and all of the possibilities that existed with it.  Once I finally got my feet wet,  I realized that I could share my research with everyone who was interested through the web and so, in the fall of 2001 my first website went online.   I now have a total of four websites and my roll in each is not merely as a webmaster but also as a researcher, which gives me the opportunity to do two things that I love, research and web building. 

 

\I'm only an amateur at web building, but I learned at the very beginning the importance of documentation and until recently I had always considered myself a good researcher.  The year 2004 marked a new beginning in research for me as I started a quest to document an African American family. That's when I suddenly hit the famous 1870 brick wall.   Until that time I was oblivious to the difficulties involved in African American research.  Loving genealogy and helping others with their lineage, I knew that I wanted to do all that I could to help African Americans with their research.  While working with Charee, I found a way to at least do a small part by contributing records from the county in which I live.   Not long into our project, we both realized that there was a need to broaden our area of research to surrounding counties and from there the decision was made that we should cover the entire state of Kentucky and the concept of Kentucky African American Griot's was born with the goal of being a centralized location for African American research in Kentucky.  Within two days, KYAA Griot's went online and soon afterwards became a member of the USGenWeb as part of KyGenWeb's Special Collections Project. Later in the year we recognized that further expansion was needed and U.S. African American Griot's was born.  Our goals for USAAG are the same as with KYAAG, to assist all those in search of the African American roots in the United States.  We firmly  believe that there is a great future ahead for both projects.  Charee and I live it and breath it on a daily bases and we share the same passion and drive to see that they become all that they can be. 

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us in making these sites what they are today.  Your  support and  generous contributions have been overwhelming.  For those who would like to make a contribution, please do.  These are projects are in need of input from everyone with an interest in African American research to meet their full potential.

Thank you and may God bless you all,

Jerry Taylor