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California African American Genealogical Society, Inc. (CAAGS)


The Foundation, the Journey and the Vision

James Dent Walker, Edgar Love and Lonnie Bunch, realizing the need for African-American genealogists in Los Angeles to network with one another, began organizing a society which would provide a vehicle for Black genealogiss to trace their roots. They were encouraged by the acting director of the California African-American Museum to form a society associated with the museum. We were associated with the museum for two years.

The first organizational meeting took place on 23 March 1986 at the California African-American Museum, located in Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California. The California African-American Genealogical Society, Inc., hereafter known as CAAGS was the first society on the West Coast formed specifically to research the genealogies of slave descendants.

The charter members of the society were L. R. Bunkley, Frankye Charles, Marianna Cushine, Alva H. Griffith, Zelda A. Grubbs, Jamesetta C. Hammons, Loveen D. Harris, Brenda Heavens, Ronald W. Higgins, George B. Jenkins, Herbert W. Laffoon, Edgar F. Love, Zakiyah Munir-Ahmad, Dorie Russell, William Russell, Mrs. Wendell H. Scott, Nettie Simons, Oscar L. Sims, Betty Jean Smith, Ozieal F. Smith, Carol L. Thomas, Doris L. Williams and Gerald L. Wilson. With James Dent Walker and Edgar Love together as the driving force, members learned the skills of research and documentation from expert genealogists.

Past Presidents, in the order of their presidency were: Edgar Love, Jamesetta C. Hammons, Robert Taylor, Vernon Robinson, Mark Greenfield, Ronald W. Higgins, Kwame Welsh, Ronald Baptiste and Majorie Sholes-Higgins.

We have a diverse membership of over 100 members researching almost every state as well as Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe. We have sponsored: research tours to Salt Lake City and the National Archives (both regional and national) as well as seminars, workshops and educational outreaches.

Our community involvement has included the African-American West Coast Summit, Black Family Reunion, Discover Your Roots, and the Gene Autry Museum Conferences. CAAGS has been represented at many genealogical conferences such as The Afro-American Historical Genealogical Society (AAHGS), Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), Gentech, Jamboree, National Genealogical Societies (NGS), the San Diego Family History Fair, and the LDS Discover Your Roots conferences.

Our "Show and Tell" meetings are legendary. CAAGS Writers' Group has begun to produce manuscripts and stories documenting their family histories. Many are already published authors.

CAAGS' publications include: Beginning Genealogy, Los Angeles Township 1850-1880, Los Angeles Township 1900, Surname Directory 1995, and soon to come Members Ancestral Charts.

The California African-American Genealogy Society was featured on the PBS Ancestors Series episode on African-American Research.

CAAGS' sixth president, Ronald Higgins, was instrumental in encouraging and setting up new African-American genealogical societies in Oakland, California, San Diego, California, Orange County California, and Las Vegas, Nevada . Our Society strives to encourage all African-Americans to begin reclaiming their heritage.

Our President, Ronald Higgins, on behalf of the whole society, welcomes all to join us at our regular meetings which are held from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM, every third Saturday (except June and August). For more information contact Jamesetta Hammons at 323-636-8947.

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