A Special Hack Genealogy Interview: Heritage Travel with Toni Carrier

Toni Carrier

[Editor’s Note: Here is a special interview at Hack Genealogy with Toni Carrier, Founding Director at Lowcountry Africana about her new endeavor: a blog on Lowcountry Africana dedicated to heritage travel and genealogy entitled Lowcountry Roots Travel. Read below to see why Toni and her blog is on the cutting edge of the next new growth area of the genealogy and family history industry.]

Before we get started, for those readers who are unfamiliar with Lowcountry Africana, can you give us your “elevator speech” and sum up the site, its goals and how you got started?

You betcha! Lowcountry Africana is an all-volunteer research project and free website dedicated to African American genealogy and history in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

We especially seek resources that can break through the 1870 Brick Wall, the toughest of challenges in African American genealogy. Because enslaved ancestors were listed by first name only before the 1870 US Census, it is difficult to locate them in pre-1870 records. Our goal is to digitize and index as many pre-1870 records as we can find and place them on our free website, to help break through that research barrier.

 A new venture, Lowcountry Roots Travel, launches on Wednesday 6 November 2013 and the focus is “heritage travel.” Why did you select the area to focus on and what can readers of Lowcountry Roots Travel expect to find on the blog?

Heritage travel (travel that is one part research trip, one part walking where your ancestors walked and one part leisure travel) is growing in popularity. The Lowcountry has some of the best destinations in the country, cities that preserve and celebrate their deep history. Blogging about roots travel is a natural extension of our focus on African American heritage.

Readers can expect to find tips on planning roots travel, as well as in-depth information on various Lowcountry heritage destinations. For each destination, we will highlight local archives (with research tips!) and local sites significant to cultural and historical heritage. We may also share our favorite places to relax, grab a great meal and look over the archival treasures you gathered that day!

Do you think heritage travel will continue to be a growing segment of the genealogy and family history market? How can genealogical societies and genealogy professionals get involved and capture part of this market?

I do think heritage travel will continue to grow in popularity. Genealogy professionals in the Lowcountry are already beginning to focus on heritage tourism. Some examples ~ Alphonso Brown of Gullah Tours, a native of Rantowles, South Carolina, is fluent in the Gullah language and familiar with many of the Gullah customs. His bus tours immerse visitors in Lowcountry Gullah heritage. Paul Garbarini of Uniquely Charleston Tours offers custom tours based on each family’s history in the Lowcountry. He conducts genealogical research, then takes you to the places where your ancestors lived, walked and worked. Gullah Heritage Trail Tours on Hilton Head Island, SC offers in-depth tours of historically and culturally significant local sites. Your tour guide is Dr. Emory Shaw Campbell, a native of coastal South Carolina and member of the Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor Commission.

Genealogical societies could benefit from the growing interest in heritage travel by developing suggested heritage tours based on local family and cultural history, and offering those tours annually as fundraising events.

What makes heritage travel attractive and what are the typical activities pursued by a heritage traveler?

Heritage travel offers opportunities to combine several meaningful experiences into one trip. Standing where your ancestors stood, just feeling those sites of memory under your feet, is an experience you won’t soon forget. Also, the majority of the records you need in order to learn your ancestors’ stories are only to be found locally, not online. Our new blog will highlight local archives and give tips on researching there, to help readers hit the ground running when they arrive. Add to this the many wonderful Lowcountry destinations and you have a meaningful and memorable trip!

Tell us about the upcoming seminar Unearthing Treasures that Lowcountry Africana is sponsoring. How did the concept for such an event develop, how can readers learn more, and what are the end-goals of the seminar?
“Unearthing Hidden Treasures: Tracing Your African American Ancestors at the South Carolina Historical Society” is an all-day seminar on Nov. 9, 2013, sponsored by the SC Humanities Council and the South Carolina Historical Society. The morning will focus on deciphering and making the most of plantation journals, maps, plats and images. The afternoon will be filled with guided research in the collections of the South Carolina Historical Society.

We’re very excited about this seminar for two reasons. First, SCHS has one of the richest plantation records collections in the Southeast, some extending back into the 1730’s. Second, we will work with registrants ahead of the seminar to identify records at the South Carolina Historical Society that may be of interest for their research. We are grateful to the seminar sponsors for creating such a quality research experience for attendees. We hope to conduct more seminars like this in the future!

Any other comments?

We’re so grateful to Genealogy Ninja Thomas MacEntee for guest blogging to launch the Lowcountry Roots Travel blog! Thomas recently published the E-Book Family History Trippin’ – A Guide to Planning a Genealogy Research Trip, so who better to launch this new blog focusing on roots travel? Three visitors to the blog launch on 6 November will win a free copy of Thomas’ new book. We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday!

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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