Shannon Christmas -

Friday, September 17, 2021 -

6:00-8:30 pm


Shannon Christmas specializes in genetic, colonial American, and African-American genealogy in Virginia and the Carolinas. He serves as a 23andMe Ancestry Ambassador, administrator of The Captain Thomas Graves of Jamestown Autosomal DNA Project, and as a co-administrator of The Hemings-Jefferson-Wayles-Eppes Autosomal DNA Project. Shannon uses autosomal DNA to verify and extend pedigrees, assess the veracity of oral history, and reconstruct ancestral genomes. Shannon serves on the faculty of The Midwest African American Genealogical Institute (MAAGI). Shannon has a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Harvard University and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


"The Healing Power of Telling and Preserving Our Stories:

Does DNA Testing Help?"


Family mysteries shrouded in oral histories that may or may not be correct might be confirmed or shattered by DNA testing. DNA researchers will share their DNA journeys revealing their positive and/or negative outcomes and how they dealt with them. Christmas will facilitate the discussion of how those in search of family may experience healing as a result of DNA testing research.

Janis Minor Forte' -

Saturday, September 18, 2021 -

9:15 am-12:15 pm


Janis Minor Forte' is an experienced genealogist, writer, and lecturer who has presented at national, state and local genealogical conferences. She is a frequent lecturer at the NGS, FGS, and OGS conferences. In addition to her many talents, she is also a Track Coordinator for the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI). Her presentation specialties include methodology, and problem-solving techniques, skill-building techniques, and case studies and she is skilled in on-site and online African-American slavery era research. Janis has also been published in the Journal of the Chicago Genealogical Society Quarterly, newsletters of the South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society, the AAGHSC Newsletter, and other publications. Janis is a graduate of the University of Chicago with a Master's Degree in Social Service Administration. 


Seven Proven Strategies for Identifying Slave Ownership and Reconstructing Slave Era Families


Researching enslaved families is difficult because of the lack of name identification on pre-1870 census documents and in vital records. But it is not an impossible task. However, African-American researchers must develop a unique set of strategies to uncover enslaved persons in non-census and non-vital records. This lecture provides a ‘No Nonsense’ approach to uncovering pre-emancipation documents that: 1) identify slaveholders; 2) re-connect slave families; 3) identify slave kin who died before emancipation.



Resolving the Mystery: Un-Puzzling

Birthing History: Using  19 th Century

Records of a Former Slave to Verify 

Birthing – a Case Study


Genealogy involves identifying the birth of all ancestors regardless of their life length. Prior to the 20th century’s mandated birth registrations, this task might appear to have been impossible – a mystery. In case-study format, this lecture uses a variety of record sources combined with oral testimony, to uncover the mystery. This is a ‘how to’, problem-solving strategy lecture to validate the birthing history of a 19th-century woman. The strategies presented provide useful techniques to apply to your research.

Nicka Sewell-Smith -

Saturday, September 18, 2021 -

1:30-4:30 pm


Nicka Sewell-Smith is a professional photographer, speaker, host, consultant, and documentarian with more than 20 years of experience as a genealogist. She has extensive experience in African ancestor genealogy, and reverse genealogy, and is an expert in genealogical research in the Northeastern Louisiana area, and researching enslaved communities. Nicka has diverse and varied experience in media with a background in audio, video, and written communications. She's appeared on TODAY Show, CNN, MSNBC, on the series Who Do You Think You Are and has been interviewed by Oakland Tribune, The Undefeated, National Geographic, and TIME. She is the host of BlackProGen LIVE, an innovative web show with more than 125 episodes focused on people of color genealogy and family history. 


Older Than U.S.: The Elders of the Trask 250


From Sago and Fatima, Randall and Esther, to Moosa and Katy, learn the ancestral story of the Trask 250 from the vantage point of the oldest traceable ancestors who unite them.



Finding John Lee


Discover how DNA, online and offline genealogy converged to break down a more than 100-year-old brick wall revealing the life, times, and relations of a mysterious multi-ethnic man named John Lee.


Regular Prices

Members $25.00

Non-Members $35.00

   Conference + New Membership $60.00




Late Registration


Members $35.00

Non-Members $45.00


   Conference + New Membership $70.00

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