Got Proof! Author Honored with James Dent Walker Award for Excellence in African American Historical Research
New Orleans, LA - October 19, 2013 - Recently, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogy Society (AAHGS) bestowed its highest award, the James Dent Walker Award, to author, lecturer, and family history researcher, Michael Nolden Henderson at the AAHGS national conference held in Nashville, TN.
The award is presented to someone who has exhibited distinguished accomplishments through a significant and measurable contribution to the research, documentation, and/or preservation of African American history. Henderson earned the award for his notable research to uncover his ancestors who populated Louisiana from as far back as 1657. In his book, Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation, Henderson details his journey to discover his fourth generation great-grandmother, an enslaved woman named Agnes Mathieu, who gained her freedom in 1779 at the beginning of Louisiana's participation in the American Revolution. Her French consort, who assisted in securing her freedom, served in the American Revolution under Spanish colonial governor, Bernardo de Galvez.
Henderson's research into his own ancestors, as well as other people of color in Louisiana, has gained national attention. In 2010, he was featured in a segment of the nationally televised program "History Detectives" titled "The Galvez Papers," and in that same year made history as the first African American in Georgia inducted into the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution.
"An award of this caliber given by an organization as esteemed as AAHGS makes me extremely proud," said Henderson. "This honor will fuel my ongoing research into the lives of my own African, Native American, and other ancestors, and inspire me to tell the stories of the contributions people of color have made to this country."
James Dent Walker, was a distinguished genealogist elected to the National Genealogical Society's National Genealogy Hall of Fame in 1999. He was a founder and president of AAHGS, and was employed for 30 years at the National Archives and Records Administration. He was particularly noted for his knowledge of military and pension records covering the period of the Revolutionary War through the Civil War. In addition to his many publications, Walker helped Alex Haley with genealogical research that later became the basis for Haley's best-selling saga, Roots.
Walker, along with his wife Barbara, traveled extensively throughout the northeast and southeast United States researching and recording names of people of color who served in the American Revolution. The database they amassed became the foundation for a publication released by the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution titled Forgotten Patriots-African American and American Indian Patriots of the American Revolutionary War: A Guide to Service, Sources, and Studies (2008).
In 2011, Henderson, then vice president of the Button Gwinnett Chapter, Georgia Society, Sons of the American Revolution, participated in a grave marking ceremony to honor two of the Georgia patriots listed in the book -- Mammy Kate and her husband Daddy Jack -- who served valiantly to rescue Stephen Heard from a prisoner of war camp in Augusta, Georgia. Heard later became the 12th governor of Georgia.
"It's more than a coincidence for me to have located patriots Kate and Jack in the DAR
Henderson with Barbara Walker at AAHGS conference book, to have initiated and participated in their grave marking ceremony, and later to be honored with an award named for the man who identified them so many years ago," Henderson said. "It warmed my heart to share this story with Mrs. Walker at the AAHGS awards ceremony. I believe she was touched by the story."
To learn more about Henderson's genealogy research and his book, visit www.MichaelNHenderson.com.