The Baltimore Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (BAAHGS) is the second oldest and the longest continuously operating chapter. it held its first meeting on May 20, 1989 at St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church in East Baltimore, the oldest African American parish in the nation.

Charter Members

Charter Members of BAAHGS included:

  • Agnes Kane Callum, organizer of the chapter and co-author of this history
  • Joyce Camper
  • Roberta E. Carter
  • Sister Elaine Frederick of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the country’s oldest order of African American nuns
  • Donna Tyler Hollie, co-author of this history
  • Dr. Charles Johnson
  • Crystal and Karen Minor
  • Dr. Gloria Morrow
  • Dr. Joyce Rasin
  • Sheila Scott
  • Karen, Dana and Elizabeth Sutton
  • Gloria V. Warren
  • Gehazer Wilborne
  • Mildred and Mack Willoughby, and their two grandchildren

Early Meetings

At the initial meeting, the group discussed several potential research projects and established committees to report to the body at the next meeting. At that meeting, held on June 24, 1989, the members agreed to research the origin and history of African American public school in Baltimore. During the September meeting, chapter officers were elected:

  • Agnes Kane Callum, President
  • Willie Ragsdale, Vice-President
  • Joyce Camper, Secretary
  • Roberts Carter, Treasurer

The group was chartered in 1990 and in 1991, Willie Ragsdale became the second President. In 1992, Ragsdale was succeeded by Roland N. Mills, a dedicated man who continues to serve as President. Under his leadership and with the direction and assistance provided by Agnes Kane Callum and Sylvia Cooke Martin, National President, Baltimore hosted AAHGS’ first conference held outside of Washington, D.C. More than 50 people participated. In 2005, our chapter was officially named for our founder and mentor, Agnes Kane Callum for her contributions to the genealogical and historical community.


Through the years, several speakers have enhanced our knowledge. Among the most notable are:

  • Dr. Debra Newman Ham, a founder of AAHGS spoke on preserving archival materials
  • Noted food historian and author Michael Twitty enlightened us on African American foodways
  • Current members of the Buffalo Soldiers attended a meeting and shared the history of their group
  • Dr. Carla Peterson discussed her book, Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth Century New York
  • Dr. Brian C. Morrison presented his dissertation on African American education in Baltimore
  • Robyn Smith of the Central Maryland AAHGS Chapter provided information on courthouse research
  • Nathania Branch Miles shared her research on migrants from Cape Verde
  • Jeff and Shirley Supik spoke about their Baltimore County home which was once a station on the Underground Railroad
  • Larry Gibson, Esq. discussed his book, Young Thurgood

Other presenters came to us from the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Maryland State Archives and the National Archives.

Chapter members have served as speakers as well. The late Phyllis Green discussed her book, a biography of the first pastor of Baltimore’s oldest African American Episcopal Church. In addition to reports of exciting genealogical discoveries, members have shared information on:

  • Native American research
  • Genealogical research using the latest technology
  • Preparing for family reunions
  • Basics of DNA studies
  • Creating ceremonies to honor our ancestors
  • African Americans in the military
  • Early 20th century African American educators
  • Records of the Southern Claims Commission
  • Preparing for research visits