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2011 Charleston National Genealogical Society report

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MHA at National Genealogical Society 2011

Charleston, SC

MHA’s four day presence at NGS was the perfect antidote to any perception we might have had that our interests are a small niche, relevant only to a tiny percentage of Americans.   Julie Williams Dixon’s showing of Melungeon Voices on the first night of the conference drew a sizeable audience, as did Terry Mullins’s lecture presentation on Melungeons, “Cultural Diversity Comes Home.”  But the combined 150 or so attendance at these programs was dwarfed by the number of people who visited the MHA booth in the exhibit hall.   Most of the hundred and twenty booths were hosted by vendors of books and online databases, or local and state genealogical societies.  The MHA booth was consistently once of the most visited, and often was swarmed by visitors between the sessions for genealogists.  Perhaps this was partly due to the fact that we had three authors and one filmmaker at the booth.  Terry Mullins, Frank Sweet, Julie Williams Dixon, and I all spent hours responding to inquiries, as did S.J. Arthur, Elizabeth Williams, and Mary Lee Sweet.   But all this activity was from the 1600 registered conferees who had paid to attend the event.  On the final day, more than 600 more people arrived for free genealogy classes offered by ancestry.com, and they greatly increased the traffic in the exhibit hall.   The influx of new people kept all of us busy answering nonstop questions; the most frequent being simply “What is a Melungeon?”  Each of us heard story after story about mixed ancestry backgrounds, or family secrets and mysteries that hinted at such.  We left feeling that the interest shown in the past for MHA’s work is only the tip of the iceberg and many thousands of Americans continue to discover that their own ancestry is more complicated than they had suspected.
One of the questions asked at the showing of Melungeon Voices was about the connection of the Melungeon story to the new book by Daniel Sharfstein, The Invisible Line.  This provided an opening for MHA to announce the author’s participation as a featured speaker at 15th Union.

About MHA

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The Melungeon Heritage Association is a non-profit organization documenting and preserving the history and cultural legacy of mixed ancestry peoples of the southern and eastern United States.  While our focus will be on Melungeon heritage, we firmly believe in the dignity of all mixed ancestry groups and commit to preserving this heritage of ethnic harmony and diversity. MHA does not endorse any particular theory of origin or the work of individual researchers.  Annual Melungeon Unions bringing together researchers and descendants are central to MHA’s mission, but are not the only activities we sponsor.
All who support the work of MHA, whether identifying as mixed ancestry or not, are invited to participate in the work and goals of MHA as well as the gatherings and events. As we celebrate our past, we also seek to understand its impact on our lives today and help others to do the same.

The board of directors of MHA includes Scott Withrow (SC, President), Laura Tugman (TN, Vice President), Stephanie Musick (VA, Secretary), Lynda Davis-Logan (WV, Treasurer), S.J Arthur (KY, President Emeritus), Claude Collins (TN), Kathy Lyday (NC), Manuel Mira (NC), Terry Mullins (VA), Mary Lee Sweet (FL), Rose Trent (TN), and Eddie Manuel (VA).

MHA Consultants are Lisa Alther (TN), Marilyn Cheney (MA), Ina Danko (TN), Julie Williams Dixon (NC), Michael Gilley (VA), Shirley Hutsell (TN), Jameson Jones (VA), Marvin T. Jones (DC), Toney Kirk (WV), Elmer Maggard (KY), Phyllis Morefield (VA), Arwin Smallwood (NC), Stacy Webb (KY), and Wayne Winkler (TN).

For further information about MHA, write to mhainc2000@yahoo.com; we are not able to answer genealogical research queries.

A membership form which can be printed and mailed, or emailed, is attached to this message. The mailing address and email address to which it can be sent are included on the form.

Membership.docx

Donations

We would like to thank all of those who donate to MHA. Without your support, we cannot continue in our work to research, educate, and archive information concerning Melungeons and other mixed ancestry or associated peoples. All donations are tax deductible.

MHA is a federally recognized 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit organization. Thank you for any amounts you contribute to MHA. Do not think your contribution would be too small to be appreciated. All donations, no matter the amount you can afford, are appreciated.

A PDF form is attached for your convenience in directing your contributions.

Donations%2520revised%25202009.pdf