Media Contact: Curtis Prather
Tel: (703) 461-1782
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announced on September 5, 2019
that it would begin a reparations program targeted specifically towards descendants of enslaved persons who worked on the campus and of African Americans who were employed by the seminary during the Jim Crow era. VTS has put together a reparations research team to locate descendants of those who worked at the Seminary from 1827 to 1951. In the fall of 2019, three professional genealogists were added to the team: Char McCargo Bah, Nathania (Nay) Branch-Miles, and Elizabeth Drembus.
Bah is a native Alexandrian who worked on the Alexandria Freedmen Cemetery Project and who is working on the Ramsay Homes’ Descendant Project. Branch-Miles who worked on several projects in Prince George’s County, MD. Both are members of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), and they are chapter members of Prince George’s AAHGS. In addition to conducting archival research with the aim of documenting descendants’ connections to VTS, they will be reaching out to descendants in order to research their families’ records and oral traditions regarding their ancestors’ experiences at the Seminary.
Drembus is a genealogist for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, with an interest in African American lineages and genealogical resources. Prior to working for the DAR, Elizabeth worked at George Washington's Mount Vernon. She has also been involved in local history research projects focusing on antebellum African American land ownership in Fairfax County and was a member of the Fort Ward Working Group. With the VTS reparations research, Drembus’s focus is on finding the names of enslaved persons who worked on the campus.
The Rev. Joseph D. Thompson, Jr., Ph.D. '18, director of Multicultural Ministries at VTS, whose office administers the program said, “Virginia Theological Seminary is honored to collaborate with professionals of this caliber. Right away, they began uncovering information that is new to us. We look forward to many more important discoveries in the future.”
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Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those ordained who received residential theological education. Visit Virginia Seminary online at www.vts.edu.