The Rapidian

Got Ancestors?!

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WMGS’ Annual Seminar Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray with special guest, Tony Burroughs, will be held on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th November 2011 at the Prince Conference Center.
Underwriting support from:

Sponsored Seminar Registration for ages 15-25

For the 2011 Got Ancestors?! Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray seminar with Tony Burroughs, WMGS is pleased to announce a sponsorship program to encourage people aged 15 – 25 to attend the seminar. See for more information.

Got Ancestors?! Annual Seminar

Special guest, Tony Burroughs, expert genealogist, author and lecturer

Special guest, Tony Burroughs, expert genealogist, author and lecturer /Tony Burroughs

Michigan in the Civil War Sesquicentennial Event

Michigan in the Civil War Sesquicentennial Event /Seeking Michigan

The Western Michigan Genealogical Society (WMGS) announces its GotAncestors?! Annual Conference for 2011 entitled Genealogy in Black & White and Blue & Gray featuring Tony Burroughs. The conference will be Friday and Saturday, November 4th and 5th at the Prince Conference Center in Grand Rapids. Nationally known author and genealogist Tony Burroughs will present “Voices of Freedom: African American Soldiers in the Civil War” on Friday evening. Four additional talks by Mr. Burroughs on Saturday will include genealogy topics for African American, Civil War, and research techniques and organization. Hear why Tony says, “I love watching and hearing the excitement when people find their relatives, or find their ancestors listed in records. I love everything about genealogy.”

The cost for the Voices of Freedom event on Friday is $15.00. Conference Registration is $49.00 for Saturday only or $59.00 per person for the two-day program if registered by October 7th. Space is limited. Detailed information and online registration is available at

This is the fourth consecutive year the WMGS GotAncestors?! Seminar will be at the Prince Conference Center, 1800 East Beltline SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan on the campus of Calvin College. The facility is handicapped accessible and smoke-free.

Voices of Freedom: African American Soldiers in the Civil War

We’ll kick off the 2011 GotAncestors Annual Seminar on Friday evening, Nov. 4th. How often do we hear from Civil War soldiers themselves? Rarely. It is especially rare when we hear from African American Civil War soldiers when most were prohibited from reading and writing. African American soldiers did discuss their war experiences. Hear what they said in this thought provoking program.

All Day Seminar with Tony Burroughs FUGA

Mr. Burroughs will present a full day of educational and inspiring talks on Saturday, November 5th. Spend the day learning about beginner and advanced genealogy strategies from an expert. Learn about researching various American records, including the tumultuous times of the American Civil War, and how to organize your discoveries.

Selected topics are: The Nature of Genealogy, Did Your Ancestor Serve in the Civil War?, The Six Phases of African American Genealogy, and Creating Order Out of Chaos. The day includes Vendors, networking with other genealogists and family historians, Door Prizes and Lunch Buffet.

WMGS Youth Sponsorship

WMGS is offering a limited number of sponsorships to people aged 15 – 25 who wish to attend this year’s Got Ancestors?! event. If you’re young and interested in learning about genealogy from a great expert, you’ll be able to attend the Friday and Saturday sessions at no cost if you are among the first 20 qualified people who register. You MUST register online if you wish to receive one of these Sponsorships.

Tony Burroughs FUGA 1

Tony Burroughs, is an internationally known genealogist who taught genealogy at Chicago State University for fifteen years. He loves genealogy – from his website “I love genealogy. I love researching in libraries and archives around the country and discovering new ancestors. I love staying up all night, and sometimes into the wee hours of the morning researching on the Internet. I love solving genealogy riddles, overcoming challenges and breaking through genealogy brick walls. I love meeting new relatives. I love interviewing older family members, and younger ones too. I love going through old dusty boxes of family papers and photographs and seeing what my ancestors looked like. I love traveling to places where my ancestors lived and walking in their shoes. I love teaching other people how to search for their ancestors. And, I love watching and hearing the excitement when people find their relatives, or find their ancestors listed in records. I love everything about genealogy.”

Tony’s "greatest hits" include:

• was a guest expert in Roots Remembered (BBC 2007), Oprah’s Roots (PBS 2007), and African American Lives with Henry Louis Gates (PBS 2006);

• was the genealogist in search of the family of Jesus on three continents in, The Real Family of Jesus. The documentary produced by the BBC aired as a two hour Easter special (The Discovery Channel 2005);

• was a featured genealogy expert in six episodes of the PBS television series, Ancestors 2 (2000);

• consulted on the Reverend Al Sharpton/Strom Thurmond genealogy;

• has been awarded many honors including the Distinguished Service Award from the National Genealogical Society, and Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association;

• is a New England Historic Genealogical Society Councilor;

• was the African American Genealogy expert in the original Ancestors (PBS 1997);

• has been interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning, CBS News, ABC World News Tonight, BET Nightly News, National Public Radio (NPR) and many local broadcasts;

• has been quoted in newspapers in London, Paris, Toronto, Hong Kong and Sydney, as well as the New York Times, People Magazine, Time Magazine, ̛Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Ebony, and Jet Magazine;

• his book, Black Roots: A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree (Simon & Schuster, 2001) was number one on Essence Magazine's Best Seller List and is now in its fourth printing.

• “This has been very good, entertaining & informative.” - Little Rock

• “I didn’t know any of this. You’ve opened new worlds for me.” - National Archives

1 FUGA = Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association

Find out more at

About the Western Michigan Genealogical Society

The Western Michigan Genealogical Society was founded in 1954 with the purpose of preserving and making available for genealogical research the records of our ancestors; encouraging and assisting members in genealogical research; promoting the exchange of knowledge and encouraging the deposit of genealogical records in established libraries and archives. WMGS was the second organization dedicated to Family History and Genealogy in the state of Michigan.

Membership meetings are held monthly from September through June in the Grand Rapids Public Library Ryerson Auditorium. An Annual Conference is held each November. All meetings are open to the public.

Membership is $20.00 per year and includes a subscription to Michigana, the Society’s 40 page quarterly magazine. It includes original and unpublished material, concentrating on western Michigan; helpful hints, book reviews, ancestor portraits, and “how to” suggestions.

For more information, contact Don Bryant at [email protected] or 616-283-4256.

Western Michigan Genealogical Society
c/o Grand Rapids Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-3268

Society Website:
Annual Conference Website:

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