Monday, October 29, 2012

Atlanta Chapter and Members Honored at AAHGS National Conference

 Rhonda Barrow and Melvin Collier, award recipients

Congratulations to Atlanta!  At the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society’s 33rd Annual National Conference in Greensboro, NC on October 6, 2012, Atlanta was honored in three ways!  First, our Atlanta chapter received the 2012 Chapter of the Year Award.  Organized on March 26, 2000, the AAHGS Metro Atlanta Chapter was officially chartered as an AAHGS chapter on September 15, 2000. The organization started with 12 committed members and has grown to nearly 100 members.  The Atlanta chapter has hosted a number of major events in the community, including Ancestry Day at the National Archives in partnership with in 2010.  This was an all-day workshop with key note presenters from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  Over 250 people attended.  More recently, in February 2012, the chapter presented an “African American Heritage Program on the Gullah Geechee Culture,” in partnership with the National Archives at Atlanta and the Historical Jonesboro Clayton County, Inc. African American Historic Committee. Over 350 attended.  The AAHGS Metro Atlanta Chapter has not only become the “go to” organization for African-American historical and genealogical information, but the organization and its members have been sought out to partner in programs with the Georgia Genealogical Society, the Cobb County Genealogical Society, and the National Archives.

Secondly, two Atlanta chapter members were honored in Greensboro. Our publicity chairperson, Rhonda Barrow, received the AAHGS Certificate of Appreciation Award.  This award is presented to an individual or team who has made a contribution to the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society or its principles and who deserves a token of thanks.  Barrow, who has been a very active member for 10 years, has been one of the key agents that have contributed to the Atlanta chapter’s tremendous growth, an increase in membership by three folds, and the chapter’s ever increasing high quality programming.  She is a “Friend of” and long-time volunteer with the prestigious Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta, which maintains the holdings of many African-American historical resources.  One of Barrow’s most significant services to the community and to African-American history has been her work with the Girl Scouts.  A Girl Scouts leader for 17 years, Barrow singularly commenced on a mission to search out and document the African-American Girl Scout history in the Greater Atlanta area.  She went on a relentless search, and among her amazing discoveries, Barrow found original photos and artifacts that pertained to the original 1944 Atlanta area African American Girl Scout Troop. She also found three members of the original Atlanta troop.   Barrow then put together an exhibit at the Regional Headquarters called “The Untold Story of Atlanta’s First African American Girl Scout Troop”.  This exhibit received rave reviews from the community and from Girl Scout officials.  Without her efforts, this significant African-American history would have gone unheralded during the 100th year celebration of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Thirdly, our vice president, Melvin J. Collier, received the Marsha M. Greenlee AAHGS History Award. This award is presented to a person or group for outstanding and measurable achievements in the field of African-American history (e.g., history, anthropology, etc.) based on the publication of a book, dissertation, or other manuscript produced by the recipient.  Collier has a Master of Arts degree in African-American Studies, and he currently works at the Archives Research Center of the Robert W. Woodruff Library – Atlanta University Center, where he has worked with other archivists on the notable and extensive Morehouse College Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collection.  He is the author of two books, Mississippi to Africa: A Journey of Discovery and 150 Years Later: Broken Ties Mended.  His books serve as great models to assist those who want to trace their African-American family histories.  Collier’s books have also been used by genealogical and historical scholars as great reference sources for genealogical methodologies.  Collier is nationally recognized for his expertise in African-American genealogy and has conducted numerous workshops and presentations around the nation on genealogical and historical subjects.  He also appeared as one of the expert genealogists on the NBC program, Who Do You Think You Are. 

Congratulations to the Atlanta Chapter and to Rhonda Barrow and Melvin J. Collier!


  1. Congratulations to AAHGS Metro-Atlanta and to Melvin and Rhonda for your outstanding work!

  2. I am very proud of both of you. Your contributions to researching and documenting African American History through Genealogy research has set examples for all of us to appreciate and be inspired by. Our ancestors are truly smiling now and forever.