For African Americans Seeking to Reclaim Family History, UB Workshop Offers Hope

Two extraordinary women will share their remarkable discoveries of their forebears

Release Date: March 13, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Because so many of their ancestors were slaves, African Americans have often had a difficult time tracking down documentation of their early roots through public and genealogical records and, as a result, early family histories may be unavailable to them.

However, those who have succeeded in this endeavor have sometimes succeeded spectacularly.

Two of those searchers will be at the University at Buffalo for a free public workshop entitled "Searching for African Ancestors: Extraordinary Discoveries" on March 23 in 1004 Clemens Hall, on UB's North Campus, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Lunch will be served.

On that day, Rhonda Brace of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Regina Mason of San Francisco, California, will meet for the first time and share their unique stories of genealogical research and academic collaboration.

Brace discovered that her ancestor, Jeffrey Brace, had published a memoir of slavery in 1810. She worked with Kari Winter, PhD, UB professor of American Studies, the editor of "The Blind African Slave; or Memoirs of Boyereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffery Brace," to gather information about the Brace family's history in New England from the Civil War to the present.

After years of searching for her family roots, Regina Mason discovered an ancestor named William Grimes, who like Jeffery Brace, had published a memoir of his experiences as a slave (his in 1825).

Mason formed a partnership with William L. Andrews, PhD, E. Maynard Adams Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and devoted years of research to the production of a new edition of Grimes' book, "Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave

In addition to the discussions by Brace, Mason and Winter, three respondents will offer comments on the presentations: Barbara Nevergold, co-founder of the Uncrowned Queens Institute; Christopher Lee, PhD, associate professor of Health Studies, University of Western Ontario, and Candice Reynolds-Lee of Ontario, a descendent of Jeffery Brace.

Sponsors are the UB Humanities Institute, UB Institute on Research and Education on Women and Gender, the UB Canadian-American Studies Committee and the government of Canada.

Those interested in attending should R.S.V.P. via email to Chenelle D. Massey at

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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