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Getting Started

Reunion Tips

Family Reunions - Celebrating Your Roots! Tips for Planning Your Reunion
by Carole E. Neal, June 20, 1998

Tips for Planning Your Reunion
Resource and Reference Information
Post Notice of Reunion
Help for Your Family Reunion
Looking for relatives?


The most important The most important thing parents can give their children are Roots and Wings!

Make decision to have a Reunion
  • WHEN will it be held?
  • WHERE will it be held?
  • HOW long will It be?
  • WHO will be invited?
  • COMPILE mailing list (database of family members)
  • SEND "Save The Date" Notice
Establish Committees
  • Involve members from each branch of the family; get input from, and involve, the young family members.
  • Set a timeline for completing tasks or assignments
  • Committees meet as needed
  • Establish back-up or contingency plans
  • Host Family, Coordinator
  • Financial - Select the Treasurer
  • Program [Theme, Reunion Colors, Schedule of Activities, Banquet Program/Speakers/Script, Picnic, Church Service, Tours, other activities based on your family’s interests and for all age groups]
  • Lodging/Hospitality
  • Registration [name badges, goodie bags]
  • Decorations, Flowers
  • Food - Meals, Refreshments [Catered? Pot Luck?]
  • T-shirts, Other Keepsakes
  • Reunion Booklet, Family Directory
  • Family History - Information & Exhibits/Displays
  • Other (Video, Photography, Banner, Prizes)
  • Clean-up
  • First, an immediate mailing should be the "Save the Date" notice. Thereafter, send out information updates periodically
  • Include due dates for response, as well as a return mailing address
  • Include tidbits of information about family ancestors
  • Give clear instructions on how to order reunion items
  • When making arrangements with service providers, confirm everything in writing. Be specific!
  • Set a budget and registration fee schedule
  • Include copy of budget in an early mailing
  • Request bank to open a free, temporary checking account in the name of your reunion
  • Keep reunion funds separate from personal funds
  • Can also consider a permanent account if you decide to establish a family association
Schedule of Activities
  • Contact the local Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as the local Chambers of Commerce for information regarding sightseeing tours and other activities, printed information, and hopefully, promotional giveaways.
  • The first activity sets the tone for the reunion. Make it festive. Have get acquainted games. Assign committee members to act asgreeters
  • Allow for "free" time, especially for a first reunion. This allows folks to just talk and get acquainted or reacquainted and allows for informal sharing of family stories. In other words, don’t have something scheduled for every minute of every day.
  • At appropriate point, re-emphasize the times for various activities
  • Provide written directions to activity locations
  • Tap into family talent pool
  • Contact local hotels and request a block of rooms be held in the name of the reunion
  • Negotiate group rate
Goodie Bags
  • Request promotional giveaways and printed information from local Convention and Visitors Bureau, Chambers of Commerce, or local businesses
  • Download information from internet
  • Design - reflect reunion’s theme and colors
  • Prepaid? Pre-delivered, or pick up at reunion?
  • Possible fundraising activity
Reunion Booklet
  • Cover designs
  • Welcome
  • Outline of activities
  • Banquet program
  • Welcome letter from local officials
  • "In Memoriam" section
  • Family history
  • Family directory
  • Family business cards (support our own)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Family photos
  • Other
  • Formal photos: family elders, group photo, other
  • Recommend professional videographer
  • Include on-camera testimonials from attendees
  • Invite local officials - formal welcome
  • Banquet keynote speaker
  • Pre-reunion press release, and/or
  • Post-reunion newspaper article
  • Internet postings
  • Family newsletter
  • Other
Name Badges
  • Color-coded by family branch
  • Have backup materials on-site
Record Keeping
  • Devise organized method for recording and maintaining registrations, keepsake orders, correspondence, confirmations, and other reunion Information
Family Business Meeting
  • Decide particulars for next reunion
  • Discuss/decide other family business
Ideas For Family Projects
  • Repair of ancestral grave sites; headstones
  • Establish family Youth Scholarship Fund
  • Create family Investment Club
  • Make a family Heirloom Quilt
Reunion Prizes
  • Person who traveled the farthest
  • Oldest attending
  • Youngest attending
  • First to register
  • Most grandchildren
Reunion Wrap-up
  • Pay all outstanding bills
  • Send final communication
  • Include final Financial Report

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Resource Resource and Reference Information

Title: Family Reunions - More Than a Picnic - A Gathering of Generations
Author: lone Vargus, Ph.D.
Publisher: Pathfinders Travel Magazine, 1997 Summer/Fall Issue
(215) 927-9950


Title: Organizing A Family Reunion
Author: lone Vargus, Ph.D.
Publisher: Pathfinders Travel Magazine, 1997 Summer/Fall Issue
(215) 927-9950


Title: Family Reunion Handbook
Author: Barbara Brown and Tom Ninkovich
Publisher: Reunion Research, 3145 Geary Blvd., #14, San Francisco, CA 94118


Title: For Every Season - The Complete Guide to African-American Celebrations Traditional to Contemporary
Author: Barbara Eklof
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022


Title: The Family Reunion Planner
Author: Donna Beasley
Publisher: Macmillan - A Simon & Schuster Macmillan Company, 1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019


Title: Reunions Magazine
Author: Quarterly Publication
Publisher: P.O. Box 11727
Milwaukee, WI 53211-0727
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web page:


  The Family Reunion Institute
School of Social Administration
Temple University, Ritter Hall Annex
Philadelphia; PA 19122
(215) 204-6244
(215) 204-9606 FAX
  Sponsor of the annual African American Family Reunion Conference - Philadelphia.

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Post Notice of Reunion

Post your upcoming Family Reunion on the following websites.

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Help Help for Your Family Reunion

The following are some Web sites that you may find helpful in planning your family reunion.

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Looking Looking for relatives?

Here are some online directories that can help:


Genealogy How-To Advanced

Genealogy How-To Advanced

Links to how-to articles and websites.

How to Write Your Family History
Writing Your Family History - From Idea to Manuscript by Annette Madden
The Genwriters website provides ideas and resources to assist you with writing your family history.

Using Microsoft Office to Access the Louisiana Slave Databases
The Silver Anniversary Edition of the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) Vol. 21, No. 1, contains an article by Edwin B. Washington, Jr., entitled Using Microsoft Office 2000® to access the Louisiana Slave Databases. It describes how to access the data on the CD on pages 83-95 complete with details and Windows graphics. This may be of assistance to those who have been trying to access the data on the CD.

How to Create Your Genealogy Home Page
Use Cyndi's Genealogy Home Page Construction Kit (Tips, hints, links and more to help you create your personal genealogy home page!) in conjunction with the NGS Guidelines for publishing Web pages on the Internet.

How to Perform Slave Research in the State of Georgia
Consult the Georgia Slave Research Checklist in the course of slave research in the State of Georgia.

How-to Tips on Virginia Research
New Approaches to Virginia Research by Karen Clifford, AG. Court records, tax records, laws of Virginia...


AAGSNC Submission Guidelines

Guidelines for AAGSNC Journal Submissions

Thank you for your interest in submitting an article for the AAGSNC’s quarterly journal, the Baobab Tree. Here are some helpful hints to get you started:

Ideas for Articles:

  • Using Video to Tell Your Story (Digital Storytelling)
  • Exploring Different Ways to Present Your Family History
  • Internet Tips and Tricks
  • Using Genealogy Software
  • Breaking Through the Brick Wall
  • Conducting Interviews
  • DNA
  • Research Trips
  • Exploring Cemeteries
  • Beyond the Census: Other State and Federal Resources
  • Newspaper Research
  • Slave Research
  • Document transcriptions (i.e. wills, estate inventories, etc.)

The following is required for every article that is submitted:

  • Bio (that does not exceed 200 words) and photograph of the author
  • 150 word abstract about the content of the article
  • Preferred File Type: Microsoft Word Document

Additional Submissions:

Mystery Photos - If you are unable to identify the people in an old photo, submit it, and any details you may have about it.

Queries - Need help with your brick wall? Submit your query and allow an expert to help you.

Submission deadlines:

2/15 for Spring

5/15 for Summer

7/15 for Fall

10/15 for Winter

Email Journal Submissions to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Website Submission Guidelines for Contributors

Publication Policy:

Articles or data is considered for publication by the Web Site Committee. Parts of previously published material cannot be used without written permission of the author and/or copyright holder.

AAGSNC does not assume responsibility for errors of fact or misrepresentations made by contributor.


  1. Text must be typed, and double spaced using preferable a 12-point font in Times Roman
  2. Margins should be 1 inch left, right, top. There should be a double space between sentences.
  3. Include the title on the top of the page. Do not use abbreviations.
  4. All submissions must be submitted digital online or physically to the Web Committee on CD or flashdrive preferable as a pdf file. (unconverted files must be in one of the following software formats: Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Microsoft XL or Lotus 123).
  5. All sources of information must be sited with endnotes versus footnotes.

Pictures and Graphics:

  1. Digital photos should be submitted in TIFF or high resolution JPG format6.
  2. Permission to Reproduce or Adapt Copyright-Protected Material


Permission must be obtained from the Editor of the AAGSNC Journal The Baobab Tree to  publish any articles, manuscripts, family group record sheets, and/or visual images that have been published in the Journal The Baobab Tree of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California.

In granting permission to publish materials previously published in the Journal, The Baobab Tree, the AAGSNC does not surrender its right to grant the same permission to others. The copyright law of the United States (U.S. Code, Title 17) governs the making of photocopies and reproductions of copyrighted material. Therefore, the publishing party assumes all responsibility for obtaining permission for use of any material where copyrights, literary property rights, or other forms of ownership of intellectual property may apply, in conformance with the provisions of the United States copyright law.

Databases, Presentations, Podcasts, Webinars 

Permission must be obtained from the author to publish any presentation, article, manuscript, family group record sheet, visual image, or database that has been published on this site for the benefit of AAGSNC members personal use.

In granting permission to publish materials posted on this site, the author does not surrender his or her right to grant the same permission to others. The copyright law of the United States (U.S. Code, Title 17) governs the making of photocopies and reproductions of copyrighted material. Therefore, the publishing party assumes all responsibility for obtaining permission for use of any material where copyrights, literary property rights, or other forms of ownership of intellectual property may apply, in conformance with the provisions of the United States copyright law.

Intro to Genealogy

Introduction to Genealogy
Dick Eastman
Reprinted with permission
Do you have a curiosity about your family tree? Many people do. Some may have their interest piqued because of an heirloom, an old picture, or perhaps an unresolved family mystery. The reasons people get hooked on genealogy are many and varied, but each person's search is unique. After all, the search for your ancestors really is a search for yourself.

If you think that family history research requires hours of rummaging through libraries, trekking through cemeteries, and writing letters to government bureaus, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Finding your family tree is simpler than what many people imagine. To be sure, you may encounter some intriguing obstacles. However, most of them can be overcome.

As with so many hobbies today, using a computer can simplify some of the tasks of searching and recording. However, a computer is not necessary. Americans have been recording their ancestry for two centuries or more without digital tools, and you can do the same. All you need is a starting point and a direction, and maybe a few tips.

In the beginning ... there's you!

Starting a family tree search is very simple: begin with what you know about yourself, and then work backwards, one generation at a time. Linking back from yourself through the generations helps to ensure that the people you research actually belong in your family tree and don't simply have the same name as one of your ancestors. The unfortunate souls who try to skip a generation may well find themselves perched in the wrong family tree.

Write down the information that you already know. A basic pedigree chart will help. You can find these at genealogy societies and at most libraries, as well as on a number of Web sites. You can find such charts at and at

Place yourself in the first position on the chart, and fill in the vital information: your name, the date and place of your birth, as well as the date and place of any marriages you have had. Next, move back one generation, and fill in the same information for both of your parents: name, date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, and date and place of death, if deceased.

Continue working back even further, to grandparents and great-grandparents, if possible. Very few beginning genealogists can fill in the basic facts on even three generations, let alone four. Simply fill in what you already know, and leave the remaining facts as blank spaces. You can fill them in later as you uncover clues.

Once you exhaust your own memory, a family fact-finding expedition is a great way to gather more information. Pick the brains of your family members, especially older family members. Take along a notebook, and write down the events they remember. Ask around for photos, letters, newspaper clippings, and so on. The memorabilia you find will surprise and delight you.

So far, you've relied on people's recollections to add to your history. We all know, however, that memories are not always exact. Next, you will need to confirm the date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, name of spouse, date and place of death, names of parents and children, for as many individuals as possible. You will be surprised how easy it is to find birth certificates and marriage records, especially in the United States. Our country has a long tradition of recording and preserving these vital records.

Now you are ready to set an achievable target from the myriad facts you have accumulated. Pick an ancestor, perhaps one with a few blanks on the chart. Next, choose a question you would like to answer, such as the town where he or she was born. Then decide where you will start hunting.

A birth certificate is an obvious objective. However, you may also need to look in a wide range of places to find out more about that person's life. When the location of birth is not easily found, you can look for other records that will help identify the person's origins. Some of the places you can look are census records, military records and pensions, land records, schooling, occupation, electoral rolls, sporting clubs, newspaper reports - in fact, the list of places where you may find clues is almost endless.

Generally speaking, it's easier to search through indexes and compiled records that are available on the internet at the beginning of your family tree discovery tour. Even if you don't own a computer, many libraries today provide computers with internet access for just such purposes. One of the greatest resources available is that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, usually referred to as the Mormons. This church has microfilmed millions of records from all over the world, and indexes to these microfilms are available on their Web site, The Mormons gather records from all faiths and all ethnic groups and make these records available to everyone, regardless of religious orientation. Best of all, you can reserve and view the microfilms at a local Mormon Family History Center near where you live. The films ship straight from Salt Lake City to your local Center, where volunteers can help you with the microfilm readers. While there, you will not be given any religious materials or lectures (unless you ask).

Wherever you turn up information about your ancestors, always check the "facts" that you find. Many times you will obtain a piece of information that later turns out to be inaccurate. Never believe anything until you can verify it! You need to treat all verbal information -- as well as most of the genealogy information on the internet -- as "clues to what might be true." Then, armed with this newly-found information, seek out an original record of the event that corroborates what you found earlier.

Once your tree starts bearing fruit, you will probably find that a computer can be a tremendous help in keeping track of all your people, events, and dates. Today's computers and software are priced to fit most any budget, and they can save weeks and even months of work. If you decide to use a computer, it's a good idea to choose a genealogy program sooner rather than later -- even if you have collected only a few family details. These programs help to organize information about individual ancestors, as well as their relationships to others in the family tree. These programs will make it much easier for you to visualize the connections between people through their capability to automatically generate charts and even point out potential discrepancies.

A search for your family tree can be one of the most fascinating and rewarding pursuits of your life. Who knows what you will find? Nobility? Heroes? Or horse thieves? Most of us can find all three in our ancestry. Who is lurking in your family tree?

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter is written by Dick Eastman, a genealogy author and lecturer. He invites e-mail questions and can be reached at


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