On April 10th Nancy Stewart, author of eleven notebooks on the genealogy of African Americans in Shenandoah County, was honored with a reception at the Library. She was introduced by Mary Guinta, noted historian and member of the strategic planning committee for the Shenandoah Room and Truban Archives. During her remarks, Stewart encouraged a roomful of nearly 40 history buffs and local authors to commit themselves to passing along their own historical research so as not to lose little known facts and to correct misconceptions for future generations. She revealed that her notebook research was spurred by her brief work on the Morrison photographs for the Historical Society. The many images of African Americans made her realize their omnipresence in the county and yet not much about them was part of the written record. Stewart began her quest to document what information could be found. She discovered that African Americans were present when Shenandoah County was established, with 29 slaves recorded in the 1775 census of Dunmore County. The 1783 tax list of Alexander Hite showed 362 slaves held by 110 heads of household. The 1820 U.S. Federal Census reveals the astonishing fact that Shenandoah County had a total population of 18,926 and 12% of those were African American, or 1 in 8 people! Stewart closed by acknowledging those who had provided guidance during her many hours of research spent in the Shenandoah Room and Truban Archives.
At the conclusion of the reception, Library Director Sandy Whitesides presented Ms. Stewart with a plaque recognizing her contributions to the historical record of Shenandoah County and also noted that the Library is looking forward to hosting many future events celebrating local history and showcasing the wealth of information available inside the doors of our local history room.