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Guy Oreido Weston is an accomplished family historian, historic preservation activist, and writer. As a family historian, his primary interest is antebellum free Black people in New Jersey, spurred by his own family legacy which dates to land purchased in 1829 by his 4th great grandfather that remains in his family today. In a 2022 essay entitled Finding My Fourth Great Grandmother and Her Contemporaries, published in Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society Journal, he describes how he used deeds and other legal documents, vital records, and newspaper articles to convey his family story in a compelling narrative. His other published writing on Timbuctoo history includes Timbuctoo and the First Emancipation of the Nineteenth Century, published in New Jersey Studies in 2021, which is the most comprehensive Timbuctoo history published to date. He has written additional articles in these publications and the National Genealogical Society Journal. These can all be found at https://guyweston.com/genealogy-and-history, or via Google search.
In 2023, Guy received the William Wells Brown Leadership Award from Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage for “tireless efforts to uplift the memory of enslaved people and their stories, including your work with the Timbuctoo community,” and "prolific writing about the history of free and enslaved people.” In accepting this award, he "confessed" that he’d spent more time researching his mother’s free ancestors in New Jersey because that was much easier, and pledged to have a paper ready for publication on his Southern enslaved ancestors later in the year.
In 2022, Guy won the On-The Spot Award from the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) “for his significant contribution to AAHGS,” as well as the Paul E. Sluby African American Scholarship for from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) to support coursework need for obtaining a Certified Genealogist credential. In addition, Guy and colleague Eric Rhodes won in the Graduate and Professional Category at the 2018 New Jersey History and Historic Preservation Conference for a poster entitled Regional Variations in Manumission of Slaves in New Jersey, 1790-1860.
As a preservationist, Guy focuses primarily on Black cemeteries, including the Timbuctoo cemetery, where the oldest gravestone is dated 1847, and Mount Moriah Cemetery near Mount Holly, New Jersey, where many of his Timbuctoo ancestors are buried. That cemetery dates to 1826. He says he is highly motivated by a quote that says something to the effect of “our cemeteries are important repositories of genealogy, history, and culture, in addition to being places that memorialize the deceased.” The Timbuctoo Historical Society, which he founded in 2019, obtained ownership of the Timbuctoo cemetery in 2021. He has been a Visiting Scholar in the history department at Rutgers University since 2017 and became the editor of the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society Journal in 2022. He has been recognized as the driving force behind efforts to raise the profile of Timbuctoo in New Jersey history and African American history.
Guy is one of three children born to Abe Weston, a career military serviceman, and Mary Weston, a homemaker who later became a special education teacher. As a child and young adult, he lived in England, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and the United States, attending nine schools before graduating from Willingboro High School in New Jersey. Recalling a childhood experience when his family lived in Puerto Rico at Thanksgiving but was transferred to endure subzero chill factors in North Dakota by January, he says his military upbringing helped him to understand the world from multiple vantage points, beginning with his earliest memories. “It’s been an indispensable asset for my work as a writer, as a public speaker, and as a teacher,” he said. “You understand where people are coming from, even when you’re on opposite sides of the debate.”
Guy has a master’s degree in Bicultural Studies from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and speaks Spanish with native proficiency as a result of his residence abroad during childhood. Previously, Guy worked full time in HIV/AIDS programs for more than 25 years, holding senior leadership positions in health departments in Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Maryland. He also managed a professional development program in the District of Columbia that provided continuing education credits to social workers and nurses, where he also facilitated workshops on topics such as Social Determinants of Health, HIPAA and Confidentiality, Grant Writing and Fund Development, as well as other topics related to organizational development and program development.
Guy maintains a substantial collection of vintage photographs, which can be seen on Facebook from time to time. His favorite is a stunning portrait of his great-great grandmother, who was born in 1870. He enjoys international travel and very long bike rides through the extensive trails of the Washington, DC metro area.
Guy has been engaged in genealogy research for over 25 years, with substantial focus on his maternal ancestors in Timbuctoo, NJ, where his fourth great-grandfather bought his family's plot in 1829 for $30. His introduction to genealogy came when he had to research other potential heirs to secure the title on his family’s property. More recently, his work has encompassed research and public history initiatives to raise the profile of Timbuctoo and antebellum free African Americans in New Jersey history. These have included interpretive signage in Timbuctoo, coordination of a curriculum development project in collaboration with local teachers, and preservation efforts for the Timbuctoo cemetery, where the oldest gravestone is dated 1847.
Guy currently serves as Managing Director of the Timbuctoo Historical Society is a Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University and is the editor of Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society Journal. He has contributed articles about his research to AAHGS Journal, AAHGS News, National Genealogical Society Magazine, and New Jersey Studies. He maintains a website at www.timbuctoonj.com. Guy has a master’s degree in Bicultural Studies from LaSalle University and hopes to submit his portfolio for genealogy credentialing later this year.