Red Bank genealogy group helps residents discovery heritage


Recognizing the difficulties in researching one’s family history

Vashti Harris, Staff Writer
Recognizing the difficulties in researching one’s family history, the African-American Genealogy Group (AAGG) of Red Bank teaches locals how to find their ancestors.
“Our group is for people interested in genealogy, with a particular focus on African-American ancestry. The goal is to educate members on how to search for information on their ancestors, as well as, have participants share their success stories and solicit suggestions on understanding Slave Schedules, Freedmen’s Bureau, etc., and how to get through brick walls in your genealogy search,” the group’s Co-Facilitator, Charles Lawson, said.
The AAGG is one of six Special Interest Groups under the Monmouth County Genealogy Society (MCGS) umbrella, according to Lawson.
“I have always been interested in genealogy. I joined long-time friend and MCGS member Mary A. Schulz at a Monmouth County Genealogy Society meeting and learned that MCGS had several Special Interest Groups. I asked Schulz to assist in introductions to MCGS regarding starting an African-American Special Interest Group. MCGS enthusiastically agreed,” Lawson said. “I recognize that there are unique barriers in genealogy research for the African-American community and was looking for ways to assist my own research as well as share my knowledge and experience with others.”
The group had its first meeting in April of 2015, according to Lawson.
There is no formal membership other than those interested in genealogy research. Over 40 people have attended one or more of our meetings, with average attendance about 15, according to the group’s Co-Facilitator, Mary A. Schulz.
The monthly meetings have covered a variety of topics, as well as, different formats, all related to genealogy. Some meetings have had guest speakers on topics like: “Getting Started in Genealogy Research,” “Genealogy Research at Monmouth County Archives,” “Manumissions,” and “Dead and Buried,” according to Schulz.
According to Schulz, some meetings are round table discussions with topics such as  Brick Walls and My Most Unique Ancestor.
“In addition, we have had meetings where attendees were able to sit at a computer with internet access. Those who were not familiar with genealogy search websites were matched with experienced members for a ‘hands-on’ opportunity to learn how to do their own searches,” Schulz said.
The group holds meetings every second Saturday of most months at Calvary Baptist Church’s Educational Wing, located at 23 River Street, Red Bank, according to Lawson.
If the second Saturday coincides with other events, members are notified of meeting date, location and topic via email, Facebook page, or phone, according to Lawson.
The meetings are open to all at no charge, according to Lawson.
“The benefits of the AAGG include the opportunity to learn additional ways and sources for genealogical research, both in general and African-American in particular. Members’ experience ranges from rookie to expert, have different ethnic backgrounds, and all share a camaraderie because of our mutual interest,” Lawson said. “The AAGG provides the opportunity to network with others and share ways of assisting in their search for their ancestors. The support and resources of an established genealogy organization adds to the benefit of joining the group.”
For more information about the African-American Genealogy Group visit
For additional information contact Charles Lawson at 732-530-1995 or email [email protected].
Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].