Genealogist Char Bah to Lecture at Alexandria Black History Museum

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Program on February 19 Explores African-American Family History Research

During Black History Month, discover your own family history with expert techniques for tracing African-American ancestors! On Saturday, February 19, genealogist Char McCargo Bah will present “In Search of Parker and Gray: Two African American Education Icons,” an illustrated lecture on how she researched two noted Alexandria educators.  The program runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street. This event is $5 per person, and advance registration is recommended.

Ms. Bah will share her research into John F. Parker and Sarah A. Gray, early African American educators in Alexandria for whom the Parker-Gray School was named during segregation. Despite recognition of their names today, little was known about Parker or Gray. Through genealogical research, Char has uncovered previously unknown history about both of them and she will reveal her successful research techniques. Participants will learn the importance of collateral lines, how to distinguish among people with the same name, and other tips that will help them document their family’s history.

This event is part of “Their Voices Can Be Heard,” Char’s ongoing Alexandria genealogy series which began with her research into descendants of people buried at Freedmen’s Cemetery, the historic African-American burial ground reclaimed by the City in 2007. Since 2008, Ms. Bah, an Alexandria native, has located dozens of descendants of people buried at Freedmen’s Cemetery, most of whom are 5th and 6th generations removed. Many of the descendants still live in Alexandria or nearby, but were not familiar with their Civil War-era ancestors.

Ms. Bah has been doing genealogical research since 1981, and specializes in overcoming the unique challenges that African-American family research presents. She holds two undergraduate degrees and a certificate in legal research investigation, and her work has been featured in several magazines and newspapers. A regular columnist for the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society newsletter, she also hosts a monthly online chat on called “A Chat with Char.” Ms. Bah is a contributing author to Everyday Grace, Everyday Miracle, and the forthcoming Eyewitness to America:  Virginia WPA Slave Narratives. She has appeared on several television and radio programs, including BBC Radio and PBS’s History Detectives. Ms. Bah has lectured throughout the East Coast and is a popular speaker at the Alexandria Black History Museum.

The Alexandria Black History Museum is located in the heart of the Parker-Gray Historic District in Alexandria, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information or to register, please call 703.746.4356 or visit