On September 25, 2015, archivists and archives specialists from the National Archives at College Park, Maryland and at Washington, D. C. participated in the 100th meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). In the past, NARA employees shared information on records relating to the black experience that are found at the National Archives, regional archives, and presidential libraries. Many of these panels and workshops addressed various topics, which included pension files, military records, African-American women, civil rights, law and justice, the Panama Canal, access to records, and genealogy.
ASALH was founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1915, to celebrate the legacy of the African-American experience. The mission of the organization is to promote research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about black life, history and culture to the global community. The annual conferences allow scholars, researchers, information professionals, and students to come together and discuss issues and scholarship on black life. The theme for 2015 was “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture” and the conference took place at the Sheraton Hotel Downtown in Atlanta, Georgia.
NARA employees hosted two panels this year at ASALH, with each representing various types of records held at the National Archives.
Panel 1 Case Studies — A Preview of the National Archives’ Black History Guide (Part 1 of 2). This panel focused on the subject areas of slavery, Reconstruction, and lynching through the use of selected records located at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Ms. Netisha Currie highlighted records relating to slavery, freedmen, and employment as seen through the lens of government records. Mr. Damani Davis presented on the Freedmen’s Bureau records, with some attention given to the Freedman’s Bank records. Lastly, Dr. Trichita M. Chestnut discussed related records that document lynching in the American South. Panel 1 was moderated by Dr. Tina Ligon.
Panel 2 Case Studies — A Preview of the National Archives’ Black History Guide (Part 2 of 2). This panel focused on the subject areas of education and legislation through the use of selected records located at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Dr. Tina L. Ligon discussed records highlighting the role of the federal government in Black education. Mr. Shane B. Walsh examined Paul Robeson and the House Un-American Activities Committee through the use of legislative records. Panel 2 was moderated by Ms. Netisha Currie.