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Your Paper Trail: Bring ‘Em Back to Life conference explores local resources

SM-Genealogy Class 2016 Workshop Flyer To Distribute 6-13-16The University of West Alabama’s Black Belt Archives and the Marengo County History and Archives Museum in Demopolis announce the third annual Black Belt genealogy conference titled, Your Paper Trail: Bring ‘Em Back to Life on July 21-23.

Your Paper Trail will be a conference dedicated to discussing the local resources accessible to people researching their ancestors in the Black Belt region in west Alabama and east Mississippi,” said Mary Jones-Fitts, President of the Marengo County History and Archives Museum.

The conference will include a keynote address by Jay Lamar, executive director of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. The other speakers and panels will discuss a wide range of available research modes for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced genealogist such as community history, freedmen’s bureau, school records, slave research, and university archives.

Amy Christiansen, Black Belt archivist said, “We hope the conference will address going beyond the standard methods of genealogy and promote newer modes of research.”

Your Paper Trail will begin on Thursday, July 21 at 5 p.m. with open registration and a presentation by Gwen Delaine on her new book, “The Moore Place Community: Remnant of a Time Gone By” at 5:30 p.m. followed by a dinner and storytelling by Vassie Welbeck-Browne, from 6-8 p.m. Other conference sessions will kick-off at 9 a.m. on July 22-23.

The registration deadline is Friday, July 15 and the conference will be held at the Bell Conference Center on the University of West Alabama’s campus in Livingston.

For more information on the Your Paper Trail conference, contact Amy Christiansen at (205) 652-3655/ achristiansen@uwa.edu or Mary Jones-Fitts at (334) 341-3439/marengomuseum@yahoo.com.

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Black Belt Archives receives Gewin family genealogy donation

UWA Black Belt Archivist Amy Christiansen

Michael E. Gewin of Mobile donated a genealogy collection focused on the Gewins of Greene and Hale Counties to the Black Belt Archives of the University of West Alabama’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach.

“The Gewin family played a significant role in the establishment of Greene and Hale counties, and even in Colonial America,” said Dr. Tina Jones, Executive Director of the Division of Economic Development and Outreach. “This collection represents a tremendous amount of hard work on behalf of the family and is a wonderful resource for not only genealogists with Alabama Black Belt connections, but also scholars working in early Alabama and American history. We are appreciative that the Gewin family has given this collection to UWA and the Black Belt Archives.”

The Gewin genealogy collection consists of five archival boxes of family history, an index, research notes, marriage records, and historic cemetery registry notes. Also included in the collection are three binders of reference materials and clipping files. Gewin is a direct descendant of Christopher Gewin who arrived in Virginia in the late 1600s. His descendants moved to North Carolina and Alabama in the 1700 and early 1800s.

“Genealogy and family history are important to everyone, we all have unique stories to be told and the Black Belt Archives is diligently trying to collect those found in the Black Belt region,” said Amy Christiansen, Archivist, “The Black Belt Archives’ mission is to ensure the identification, preservation, and access of the Black Belt region’s historical records and artifacts and to promote its history throughout the region, state, and the nation. The Archives looks to preserve collections from all over the Black Belt, including Greene and Hale counties so this is a great addition to its stacks.”

The Gewin family history collection will be stored in the Black Belt Archives located in Bibb Graves Hall room 126D. The Black Belt Archives is open to the public Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., afternoons by appointment.

Contact the archivist, Amy Christiansen at (205) 652-3655 or achristiansen@uwa.edu for more information or to schedule a research appointment. A finding aid for the Gewin Collection will be made available on the Black Belt Archives website here, http://centerforblackbelt.org/units/black-belt-archives-2/.

 

 

Black Belt Museum seeks public input for Smithsonian exhibit in Fall 2016

Hometown Teams_Title Treatment_color_FNLBaseball. Soccer. Hockey. Bowling. Kickball. Surfing. People around the country are drawn to compete in many ways. Not only do individuals gather to compete, but even more to cheer for their favorite athletes and teams. Nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns.

The University of West Alabama, in cooperation with Alabama Humanities Foundation, will celebrate this connection as it hosts “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program. “Hometown Teams” will be on view Sept. 14 through Oct. 31.

Smithsonian Institution LogoThe Alabama Humanities Foundation chose UWA and Sumter County to host “Hometown Teams” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour six communities in Alabama from Gadsden through Enterprise.

“We are very pleased to be able to bring ‘Hometown Teams’ to our area,” said Dr. Tina Jones, Executive Director of the Division of Economic Development and Outreach. “It allows us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region’s sports history and we hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life of our community.”

With this special tour, the University of West Alabama will develop a local exhibition and public programs to compliment the Smithsonian exhibition. The local exhibit, “Small Town, Big Impact” will feature sports items from Sumter County and UWA as well as a Wall of Honor dedicated to all individuals who have had an impact on sports in the area.

“We are currently collecting loaned materials to display in the local exhibition. We have had several community members give us softball helmets, newspaper clippings, football program sheets, and even vintage beer steins to display!” said Amy Christiansen, Archivist and Hometown Teams Project Director, “The Wall of Honor creates a forum where individuals may nominate people in the community who have had an impact in sports, to honor not only athletes but band members, coaches, parents, athletic trainers, cheerleaders, family members, sponsors and fans, all are included.”

The deadline to nominate a person to the Wall of Honor or loan Sumter County sports memorabilia is Monday, May 2.

The Wall of Honor nomination form is available by clicking here.

The Call for Memorabilia form is available by clicking here.

The Memorabilia and Wall of Honor nomination forms may also be mailed or delivered to Kelly Land Hall on the UWA campus.

For more information, contact Black Belt Archivist Amy Christiansen at achristiansen@uwa.edu or call 205-652-3655.

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Alabama Bicentennial Celebrates 200th Anniversary

bicentennial-rendering-BState’s Bicentennial Covered in Public Information Session
 
The University of West Alabama’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach will host a public information session on plans for Alabama’s bicentennial commemoration on Friday, April 22 at Noon, at Young Hall Cafeteria on the UWA campus. The program is free, open to everyone interested and lunch will be served.
Beginning in 2017, the Alabama Bicentennial Commission will kick off a three-year commemoration period and launch significant projects and initiatives-such as traveling history exhibitions and professional development for teachers-that will serve the entire state. Local communities, though, will be the heart of the commemoration, and the information session will outline plans, share ideas and discuss resources designed to support activities for towns and cities.
The session will also help organizations, businesses, churches and other groups think about how they would like to participate.
From family reunions to school service projects, from museum exhibitions to common reading programs, and from recipe collections to oral history interviews, there will be many ways that individuals, groups and communities can involve themselves in the state’s milestone birthday.
In 2013, the Alabama Bicentennial Commission was established by the governor and the legislature to begin planning for the state’s 200th anniversary. For more information about the bicentennial, visitwww.Alabama200.org, or call 334-242-1415.
To find out more about the information session, call UWA at 205-652-3828.

The Black Belt Hall of Fame recognized Flynt and Lee

Harper Lee and Flynt

Ms. Nelle Harper Lee and Dr. Wayne Flynt

The Black Belt Hall of Fame will honored two prominent figures in the region’s history on Friday, Jan. 29, at a luncheon and induction ceremony from noon-2 p.m. at the University of West Alabama’s Bell Conference Center.

Dr. Wayne Flynt and Ms. Nelle Harper Lee were honored at the ceremony. Both inductees have devoted their life’s work to the Black Belt region and Alabama, both for its advancement and preservation.

The Black Belt Hall of Fame, a program of the Center for the Study of the Black Belt, seeks to recognize and honor those associated with the Black Belt who have had a positive impact on the region, the state, the nation, and the world through contributions in art, business, education, industry, medicine, politics, and science.

“In both literature and history classes around the nation, the works of Harper Lee and Wayne Flynt influence the thoughts of others. They are both truly ambassadors for Alabama’s Black Belt, and we are thrilled that they were inducted in the same class,” said Dr. Tina Naremore Jones, Executive Director of the Division of Economic Development and Outreach said. “This was a special occasion honoring the rich legacy of both individuals.”

Dr. Wayne Flynt: Flynt’s contributions to teaching, writing, and advocacy have made a demonstrated impact on the Black Belt region and Alabama. Born on Oct. 4, 1940, in Pontotoc, Miss., Flynt attended Howard College and received an MS and PhD from Florida State University. After teaching at Samford University for 12 years, he joined the faculty at Auburn University where he remained for 28 years and became a distinguished University Professor Emeritus. Author or co-author of twelve books, including Alabama in the Twentieth Century; Alabama Baptists; Dixie’s Forgotten People, and a memoir, Keeping the Faith, Flynt was the first editor of the Encyclopedia of Alabama and the initial co-editor of the University of Alabama Press series, “Religion and American Culture.” His numerous awards include the Lillian Smith Book Award, the Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing, two James F. Sulzby Book Awards, two Alabama Library Association Awards, the Judson-Rice Award by “Baptist Today,” and induction into the Alabama Academy of Honor.

Nelle Harper Lee: Born in Monroeville, Ala. on April 28, 1926, Lee has had a major literary impact on America and the world. Lee attended Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama. She then left the state to pursue a literary career in New York. In 1960, the masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published. The novel for which she received the Pulitzer Prize has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. Set on the southern edge of Alabama’s Black Belt, the novel contains insightful portrayals of the various levels of society in the 1930s. Lee’s fiction has contributed to the conversation about race and tolerance, hope and family in American society for over half a century. She has written several short stories and essays devoted to Alabama history such as “Christmas to Me.” In 2015, Lee’s much anticipated, Go Set a Watchman was published. For her literary efforts, she has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts.

To nominate for the 2017 class, click here. For more information, contact Amy Christiansen, Archivist for the Center for the Study of the Black Belt at (205) 652-3655 or achristiansen@uwa.edu.

2016 Career Exploration Summer Camp application

COVER application Career Exploration Summer Camp 2016)

The Division of Economic Development and Outreach at The University of West Alabama is now accepting applications for the 2016 Career Exploration Summer Camp. The on-campus residential camp is for rising sophomore and junior high school students. The program will be held June 11-22, 2016. The application deadline is Monday, February 1, 2016.

The purpose of the CESC Program is to offer students the ability to explore career options and prepare for college through interactive and engaging hands-on activities, field trips and presentations. The CESC Program, sponsored by the Delta Regional Authority, is open to students attending high schools in Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Pickens and Sumter counties. The CESC is an extremely intense and structured learning opportunity for youth in the secondary school systems of Alabama.

The curriculum offers students a thorough look into current and emerging career fields, highlights of the knowledge and skills needed for each career, essential information on projected employment— where the jobs are and will continue to grow, and steps that students can take now, while in high school, to prepare for the future. In addition, students will participate in standardized applicant test preparation courses, business etiquette, computer training, academic enhancement activities, field trips and hands-on projects.

Approximately 22 students from grades 10-11 will be accepted to participate in the free 11-day summer program. Scholarships will include the following:

• All program costs/room fees
• Workshops/Handouts
• Room and Board
• Facility Usage
• Equipment/Supplies
• Travel (Field Trips)
• Lab Fees
• Speakers
The CESC is a competitive selection process program limited to 12 male and 12 female students. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Parents are encouraged to participate in the application process. Guidance counselors may identify applicants to the CESC Program and assist them with completing the forms in the enclosed application package.

For more information, please contact Sanquenetta Thompson at (205) 652-3408, sthompson@uwa.edu or call UWA’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach at (205) 652-3828.

Approximately 22 students from grades 10-11 will be accepted to participate in the free 10-day summer program.

Click HERE to download the application.

Quilt blocks unveiled in Sumter County for the Black Belt Quilt Trail

Sumter County unveiled the first four quilt blocks completed for the Black Belt Quilt Trail on Thursday, December 3rd at 2 p.m.

The Black Belt Quilt Trail is Alabama’s first  multi-county quilt trail that includes sites in all nineteen counties served by the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center. The Trail serves as an economic development and tourism opportunity highlighting historic and contemporary quilts, along with sites, artists, organizations, and individuals sharing their storied through the creation of their own publicly displayed quilt block artwork. Quilt blocks can be made of several different mediums such as wood and glass, each quilt block must look like an actual quilt but tell a story. Stories can relate to the location of the quilt block, a family, a business, organizations, and individuals. For more information on the Black Belt Quilt Trail, please contact Amy Christiansen, (205) 652-3655 or Kristin Law, (334) 682-9878.
3 quilts togetherlinda finished quilt

The first four quilt blocks in Sumter County are located in Livingston and Cuba. Three quilt blocks are on the University of West Alabama’s campus at the Black Belt Museum, the Black Belt Garden, and the Black Belt Prairie. The other quilt block is at Linda and Charlie Munoz’s home in Cuba. All quilt blocks will be available for public viewing by the end of January.

To see more photographs from the unveiling, click here.Group shot

Black Belt Museum launches “The Secrets of the Black Belt” window exhibit

Emily Boersma, standing, and Amy Christiansen make final adjustments to a spinning wheel and quilt in the Black Belt Museum display window.

Emily Boersma, standing, and Amy Christiansen make final adjustments to a spinning wheel and quilt in the Black Belt Museum display window.

The University of West Alabama’s Black Belt Museum has launched its new window exhibit series in downtown Livingston.

Located just north of the Sumter County Courthouse Square and across the street from the Bored Well, the Black Belt Museum is an emerging regional museum currently under construction. The building was once home to Sumter County’s McMillan Bank.

The first floor of the building is anticipated to open by the Summer 2016. The mission of the Museum is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret the landscape and rich history of the Black Belt of Alabama and Mississippi.

Brian Mast, standing, and James Lamb place the mosasaur skull at Black Belt Museum window display.

Brian Mast, standing, and James Lamb place the mosasaur skull at Black Belt Museum window display.

“The rotating window exhibit will be a way for the public to engage with the Museum as we work towards opening,” said Dr. Tina Jones, executive director of UWA’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach where the Museum is housed.

The first window exhibit, The Secrets of the Black Belt showcases photographs, textiles, and artifacts from the collections of the Black Belt Museum and the Black Belt Archives representing the history, culture, natural history, folklife, and industry

of the people in the Black Belt region of Alabama. Featured items showcase each unique aspect of our region, individuals can gaze through the window to see a cross section of life, past and present.

“We wanted this first window exhibit to portray the life and heritage of the people in the Black Belt and display a broad range of the Black Belt’s history, including the mosasaur jaw from the Cretaceous period, the end of the Age of the Dinosaur. If you came to the Science Saturday’s Jurassic World event, you got a look at a complete mosasaur skull! ” said paleontologist James Lamb.

The exhibit will be on display through December 15. The Black Belt Museum expresses its appreciation to its co-sponsor, Black Belt Archives and Archivist Amy

Brian Mast, foreground, and James Lamb prepare the Black Belt Museum window display.

Brian Mast, foreground, and James Lamb prepare the Black Belt Museum window display.

Christiansen, Archaeologist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Dr. Ashley Dumas, AmeriCorps VISTA Emily Boersma and Public Relations Specialist Gena Robbins for their knowledge and creation of the exhibition banners along with the greater staff from the Division of Economic Development and Outreach on UWA’s campus.

For more information on the exhibit or the Black Belt Museum, contact James Lamb at (205) 652-3725/jlamb@uwa.edu or Brian Mast at (205) 652-5528/bmast@uwa.edu. Find the Black Belt Museum on Facebook and use #blackbeltmuseum on Instagram and Twitter.

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A Newsletter of the Black Belt Conservation Research Institute

Click below to view the publication.

April 2015

Historic Black Belt Museum building offers unique consolation prize

A Museum console that had been exposed to over a century of weather is restored.

Click here to view the Power Point picture story.

Consolation Prize web launch pic

James Lamb and Tim Truelove with the restored Black Belt Museum console.

© 2016 Center for the Study of the Black Belt