Char Bah to Present Genealogy Lectures for Black History Month

Page archived as of November 23, 2015

Alexandria Black History Museum Hosting Introductory and Advanced Programs

Char McCargo BahDuring Black History Month, discover your own family history with expert techniques for tracing African-American ancestors! Genealogist Char McCargo Bah will present two illustrated lectures at the Alexandria Black History Museum at 902 Wythe Street that will help guide family historians in their own research.

The first, on Saturday, February 4, is “Using Oral History, Censuses and Vital Statistics to Start Your Research,” a program for beginners. Participants will be introduced to key techniques in obtaining oral history from family members and learn how to use these techniques to obtain census and vital statistic information. The program runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations are recommended, and the $5 admission may be paid at the door.

The second, on Saturday, February 11, is an advanced program that celebrates this year’s Black History Month theme of “Black Women in American Culture and History.” Ms. Bah will examine the family histories of four Alexandria women who were influential in the city’s African American community. Participants will discover how to apply Ms. Bah’s techniques in their own research. The program runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations are recommended, and the $5 admission may be paid at the door.

These events are part of “Their Voices Can Be Heard,” Ms. Bah’s Alexandria genealogy lecture series which developed from 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 five and six 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