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No Longer Forgotten: A Research Journey by Carolyn Brown

The following post was written by Carolyn Brown, a frequent researcher at the Local History Collection who has also produced several programs for the Bryant Library.

Life’s journey is filled with so many zigs and zags, twists and turns. Every day that we wake up we have our own agenda that we try to adhere to so that it helps our day to move along. Sometimes we can get distracted or derailed from our list of things that we are trying to do…trying to accomplish. Such was that as I began to seriously research my maternal family tree.

Carolyn as a child with her grandfather, Birdsall Townsend

In the 1990’s I came to the Bryant Library to begin the genealogical journey of my grandfather and grandmother, who were from Roslyn, NY. There were so many unanswered questions. At times I would say to myself, “If only you would have asked your grandpa the same questions that years later you asked your mother, about the family tree.” Those questions were ones that only he could answer, but what child at the age of 5 would even think of asking questions that had to do with the genealogy of their family? I know I didn’t. Sadly, my grandpa passed away when I was 7 years of age.

The first person that I met and that was very helpful at the Bryant Library Local History Collection was an Archivist by the name of Myrna Sloam. She helped me with the beginning of the research and even got me in touch with two of my grandpa’s childhood friends.

One day in the late 1990s while researching in the Library's archives, I came across an article that mentioned the Salem A.M.E. Church and how the bodies of the cemetery that belonged to the church, called Mt. Zion, were exhumed and relocated. Myrna Sloam had given me a copy of the article. I called the cemetery where they were reinterred, and they confirmed that the bodies of the deceased were there.

At that moment I knew that this was not just about researching my family, but also those that were exhumed and reinterred. Well, as I mentioned before about the zigs and zags, twists and turns of life, this research was put on hold and picked up again, several times, during my life.

Fast forward to 2018, my mother and I went back to the Bryant Library Local History Collection, and this time we met the current Archivist Carol Clarke who was and still is extremely helpful. My Mom and I shared family names and other information that we knew and Carol Clarke shared with us information that furthered my journey. I am grateful to her and I believe it was and is a divine connection. I have also had the privilege to meet Ariel Morabito, the Digital Curator of the archives department, who has assisted me along this journey. They are both gems of historical wisdom.

I was able to take up the helm fully once I retired from education in 2021 and set my eyes to do further research about my family as well as, further research about the individuals that were exhumed and reinterred. Carol even joined me on a trip to the cemetery where the bodies were reinterred.

As research was unfolding, I had the idea of creating a short documentary about the Old Mt. Zion Cemetery. Thus, No Longer Forgotten was created. The whole process of creating and researching information in order to film the documentary was very exciting. It had its moments when the thought of families having their beloved deceased relatives exhumed and reinterred, became overwhelming and ached my heart. However, the drive to tell their story was very strong and needed to be done. My heart smiles today because I now know that they will be No Longer Forgotten.

Watch No Longer Forgotten, a film by Carolyn Brown:

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