African-American History Harvest Helps Residents Trace Their Roots

Cary, NC – The Page-Walker Arts and History Center is looking to expand its records on African-American families dating back to Cary’s earliest years and is holding an event for residents to share their family records with the Center and with one another in this first-ever History Harvest.

Recording and Preserving the Past

In 2016, the Page-Walker Center created a display on Reverend John Williams Meadows, a minister in the early 20th Century who worked to improve education for local African-American children.

“While researching that display, we talked about how we didn’t have as much info on our local African-American history as we would like to have,” said Kris Carmichael, Operations and Program Supervisor for Historical Resources at the Page-Walker Center.

Out of this came the idea for the first African-American History Harvest, encouraging local African-Americans who have family history in Cary to bring in whatever documents and photos they have. The event, taking place Sunday, September 24, 2017, will also include guides on how to preserve family artifacts, from photos to quilts to family bibles.

“Trying to trace roots and history back past the Civil War is difficult so this event is helping us all learn more,” Carmichael said. “It’s also introducing people to the idea of capturing oral history.”

To help with this event, the Center is collaborating with Mycal Brickhouse, pastor at Cary First Christian Church, who has also expressed an interest in preserving Cary history. The History Harvest will also take place at the church.

“It seemed like a natural collaboration, since we wanted to achieve the same thing,” Carmichael said. “And it’s a good venue that will perhaps make people who come in more comfortable.”

A photo of Cary’s Evans family – an example of the historic artifacts gathered at the African-American History Harvest

Sharing History

Part of the History Harvest’s purpose is to help the Page-Walker Center learn more to improve their own history collection. But Carmichael said the event is also set up to help visitors learn more about their own history and family roots.

“I wanted it to be a give-and-take,” she said. “Whenever you get people together, there’s always an opportunity for finding connections. We’re setting up the circumstances where sharing can be a two-way street. Information about some families can be shared when they meet so we’re setting up that opportunity.”

Not only can visitors look through other people’s family records to potentially learn about their own past, but there will also be genealogists there from the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society. Other participating groups in the History Harvest include the Friends of the Page-Walker and representatives from NC Digital Heritage.

While the search for more history is never over, Carmichael said she wants the event to enhance the records the Page-Walker Center currently has and said the History Harvest could expand to groups such as the Latino community if this one is a success.

“We want to get people inspired and empowered to learn more about their own families,” she said. “We hope it is successful in that regard.”

Event Details

African-American History Harvest

Sunday, September 24, 2017

2-5 PM

Cary First Christian Church

1106 Evans Rd.

Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of the Page-Walker Arts and History Center.