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Three Experts Tackle the Challenges of African-American Genealogy Research at Harvey Library Seminar | Entertainment/Life

A free lecture series focusing on African American genealogy will be held beginning at 10 a.m. May 21 at the Jane O’Brien Chatelain West Bank Regional Library, 2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey.

10 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Introduction to African American Genealogy with Gaynell Brady.

Brady says the vast majority of African Americans are descendants of the 400,000 black Africans brought to North America as slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. Since slaves had no legal rights, they are not found in many traditional sources of record.

Brady does education and outreach work for the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville. She is also the owner of Mammy’s, an educational resource that encourages people to research their family histories.

11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: DNA test with Ja’el Gordon

The scarcity of records makes genealogical research African-American. Add to that the widespread destruction of records in the South in general, and tracing African ancestors can be difficult. This is where DNA testing comes in.

Gordon works for the Louisiana Arts Division in Culture, Recreation, and Tourism and for various southern Louisiana plantations, conducting research, tours, and descendant outreach activities.

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.: The Challenge of African-American Records with Antoinette Harrell

Harrell will discuss birth and death records, marriage certificates, church records, journals and other records, including Louisiana African-American Census records, Louisiana church records and court resources.

Harrell, Ph.D., is a renowned genealogist and historian. She is a producer and host of “Nurturing Our Roots Genealogy Television Talk Show” and author of several books.

This workshop is open to the public; no registration is required.

EXTENDED HOURS: The West Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, and the West Bank Regional Library, 2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, are now open an additional hour on Sundays. Each library is now open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

MINDFULNESS FOR CHILDREN: Mindfulness has many benefits for children, including increased calm, greater ability to focus, and a more positive outlook on life. A mindfulness session will be held from 10-11 a.m., Saturday, May 21, at the East Shore Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie.

Activities will include peaceful sounds, kid-friendly stretches, butterfly meditation, coloring and an affirmation to take home. This event is open to children ages 6 and up.

GENEALOGY SERIES: Gwen Kelley, a librarian specializing in genealogy and local history, will host a seminar on “Tracing Female Records” at 2 p.m. May 16, streaming on the library’s website.

Visit the home page of the library website and click on the link to join the meeting. For those without a computer, sessions will be streamed at the River Ridge (8825 Jefferson Highway) and North Kenner (630 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner) libraries on the east side of Bbank, and in Terrytown (680 Heritage Ave.) and Belle Terre (5550 Belle Terre Road, Marrero) on the west bank. These sessions will be recorded and archived on the library’s website.

Nautical safety: The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will host a boating safety course from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 21 at the North Kenner Library, 630 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner.

The course lasts between six and eight hours. It is recommended to register in advance by going to the website of the Ministry of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Students who complete the course will receive a Vessel Operator Certification Card.

COMPUTER LESSONS : Receive free computer training at West Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, and West Bank Regional Library, 2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey.

Places are limited and online registration is mandatory. Visit the Computer Classes page at and click on East Bank Regional Schedule or West Bank Regional Schedule.

Farming courses include:

  • Basic computer skills: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., May 11.
  • Individual location in basic computer skills: 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., May 12.
  • Individual location in basic computer skills: 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., May 12.
  • Introducing Microsoft Word 2: 10 a.m. to noon, May 20.
  • Introduction to Microsoft Excel, Part 3: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., May 23.
  • 3D printing: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., May 23.

Upcoming Harvey courses include:

  • Presentation of PowerPoint 1: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., May 13.
  • Introducing Microsoft Word 1: 10 a.m. to noon, May 16.
  • Introduction to Microsoft Excel: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., May 16.
  • Beginner computer skills: 10 a.m. to noon, May 17.

Chris Smith is head of adult programming at the Jefferson Parish Public Library.

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