Get an inside look at the most innovative and stimulating gathering for African American genealogy and family history research – the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI). Featured image: Michael N. Henderson, author of Got Proof!, browses the shelves at the Allen County Public Library.
The popularity of genealogy has soared in recent years. From Finding Your Roots to Genealogy Roadshow, the general public is absolutely gaga over all things ancestry related. Add DNA or genetic genealogy research to the recipe and the interest is even larger.
With this newfound interest comes an onslaught of self-taught researchers, eager to make new discoveries on a continual basis but sometimes lacking the skills necessary to maintain the momentum.
Enter MAAGI – the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute. This is not your typical conference, in fact, that’s why the word conference isn’t in the name. In its fourth year, MAAGI is a place where attendees are taught proven and successful techniques in genealogy and are steered toward putting what they learn into practice as the Institute takes place. Attendees choose a track based on their research interests and all courses are focused on subject matter that relates to the overarching theme of the track. Due to the nature of the event, attendees often suffer from what I call “The MAAGI Effect;” bulldozing through genealogical brick walls in a fury, sometimes by osmosis, and most times with the help of their instructors, fellow classmates, and through putting their newest skills into practice.
MAAGI has previously been held at Harris-Stowe University in St. Louis. This year’s installment took place at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN and had it’s largest attendance to date. I have been honored to be part of the distinguished faculty since it’s inception. This year’s faculty included: Angela Walton-Raji, Bernice Bennett, Janis Minor Forte, Dr. Shelley Murphy, Shannon Christmas, Judy Russell, Thomas MacEntee, Dr. Alfred Brothers, Anita Henderson, Roberta Ridley, Juliana Szucs, David Paterson, and Melissa Tennant.