History of AAHGS

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The following history was extracted from the AAHGS Fifth Anniversary Booklet: 1977 - 1982, compiled by Paul E. Sluby, Sr.

Early in 1977, a small group of historians and genealogists met informally to explore problems of mutual interest. Among the concerns discussed was the possible need for an organization that would focus largely, but not exclusively, on the family history and genealogy of minority groups in the belief that these groups had been largely overlooked over the years. No definite plans were made to form such an organization at this time, but it was agreed that those interested would give further thought to the idea, would discuss it with their colleagues, and would meet at a later date to pursue the possibility and desirability of establishing such an organization. This initial, informal meeting proved ultimately to mark the actual beginning of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), the broad purposes of which would be to foster and encourage historical and genealogical studies of families of all ethnic groups, with special emphasis upon Afro-Americans since the greatest deficiency was to be found in this area.

1700 ShepherdThe second meeting of what proved to be the founding members of the Society was held on 5 May 1977 at the home of James D. Walker, Washington, DC. Present were Elizabeth Clark-Lewis, Marcia Eisenberg, Marcia M. Greenlee, Debra L. Newman, Jean S. Scott, Paul E. Sluby, Sr., and James D. Walker. It was decided at this meeting that the following individuals would constitute the organizational committee of the society and that this groups would act as the Board of Directors and temporary officers until general elections were held:

President James D. Walker
VP for Historical Programs Marcia M. Greenlee
VP for Genealogical Programs Paul E. Sluby, Sr.
Corresponding Secretary Jean S. Scott
Recording Secretary Marcia Eisenberg
Treasurer Elizabeth Clark-Lewis
Archivist Debra L. Newman
Librarian Milton Rubincam
Parliamentarian Leland Holbrook
Historian Charles Johnson, Jr.

Membership in the Society was opened immediately to all who might be interested, and the first general meeting was held in October 1977 at the National Archives theatre. Those persons who joined the Society prior to December 31, 1978, were considered Charter Members and included not only professional historians and genealogists but lay persons as well. During the first your alone, approximately seventy persons joined.