Genealogist Char Bah to Lecture September 24 at Alexandria Black History Museum

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September 24 Program Examines Alexandria Family of North Pole Explorer

Discover your own family history with expert techniques for tracing African-American ancestors! On Saturday, September 24, genealogist Char McCargo Bah will present “In Search of Matthew Henson’s Roots,” an illustrated lecture on how she traced the Alexandria family members of the great North Pole explorer. 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 reservations are requested.

Ms. Bah will discuss how Alexandria native James Henson is related to the African-American arctic explorer who reached the North Pole in 1909 with Robert Peary’s expedition. She will also examine the McGuire family – common ancestors of James Henson and area resident Mary Webster Morris – and how they are connected to burials at historic Freedmen’s Cemetery in Alexandria. Those attending the lecture will learn research techniques they can apply to their own genealogy work.

This event is part of “Their Voices Can Be Heard,” Ms. Bah’s Alexandria genealogy lecture 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 5 and 6 generations removed. Many of the descendants still live in Alexandria or nearby, but were not familiar with their Civil War-era ancestors.

Char 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, PBS’s History Detectives, and Fox 5 news in Washington, D.C. 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 make a reservation, call 703.746.4356 or visit