Black Heritage Expo to Be Held at Central Library, February 13

expo flyer

On Saturday, February 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the Birmingham African American Genealogy Group (BAAGG) will host its Black Heritage Expo at the Central Library.

At the expo, you can experience black history displays, African dance and music, and workshops on genealogy and how to research your African American ancestry. Various vendors will display their wares. The expo will be in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, e-mail or check out the group’s website,

BAAGG, founded in 1999, is the oldest African American genealogy organization in Alabama, said John Lanier, parliamentarian and one of its instructors. The group’s purpose is to educate African Americans about their ancestry. He said with assistance, many African Americans can trace their family history back to 1870, when former black slaves and their ancestors were for the first time included in the U.S. Census.

Lanier said BAAGG has been a strong partner with the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) for years, taking advantage of its vast genealogy collection to research African American family history.

A number of readily available sources from 1860 to 1870 may enable you to find and to follow your slave and slaveholder ancestors within that critical period of transition. Knowing the best way to build a bridge to that era and how to utilize and assess its records will greatly increase your chances for success in this research.

“Genealogy, the study of family history, is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States,” said Mary Beth Newbill, head of the Southern History and Government Documents Departments at BPL.

“The Birmingham Public Library has one of the best genealogy collections in the country,” Newbill said. “We love being able to offer classes and resources to patrons from all over the world who visit us and want to explore their family history.”

On February 6, BPL hosted a workshop at the Central Library designed to help African Americans connect to their Alabama slave ancestry as part of its Black History Month activities. The Ties That Bind: Connecting to your Alabama Slave and Slaveholder Ancestors was a part of the Central Library's Beyond the Basics of Genealogy series, which holds several events a year. Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshops are free of charge, but registration is requested. To register, contact the Southern History Department at 205-226-3665 or

Throughout the month of February, nearly 70 Black History Month programs and activities are being held at many of BPL’s 19 library locations. See a listing online at