Critical Family History Book Review: Women of the Dawn

In April, 2016, I had an opportunity to visit Indian Island in the Penobscot River of Maine, and to meet some members of the Penobscot Nation. In that context, I learned about the wonderful book Women of the Dawn in which anthropologist Bunny McBride narrates the lives of four Wabanaki women of different generations. The term Wabanaki, […]

Census records around the world

When I am doing workshops on Critical Family History, I often work with people whose parents were immigrants, or who themselves are immigrants. What kind of census records are available from around the world? The answer is: More than you might think, and more than I thought until I sat down to take a close […]

Critical Family History, Race, and Memory Work

“In America, we have only the present tense,” observed Adrienne Rich in The Burning of Paper Instead of Children. America’s “presentism,” constructed mainly by white people, erases memory of the violent foundations of white supremacy. Critical family history, as memory work, disrupts that erasure.  Family history has become a popular journey into the past. Yet […]

Searching Freedmen’s Bureau Records

About a month ago, I learned that searching Freedmen’s Bureau records was now a possibility. What a wonderful resource for African American family historians! Between 1865 and 1872, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (what came to be known as the Freedmen’s Bureau) assisted tens of thousands of former slaves and impoverished whites […]

How not to do family history

Last week, while scrolling through Twitter, this image jumped out at me. Oh my god, this is exactly how NOT to do family history in the classroom. Apparently the sixth grade teacher had not thought very clearly about the histories of her diverse students, or the purpose family history might serve in her classroom. Writing about […]

Locating Jewish Family Roots

There is a common perception that the persecution of Jewish people makes locating Jewish family roots difficult, if not impossible. In many families, Jewish ancestry has simply been hidden to avoid persecution. Recently I was talking with someone who had not known until reaching adulthood that she had Jewish ancestry. One of my guest bloggers […]

Family History in the Elementary Classroom

Teachers sometimes ask what advice I would give for family history projects with students. Since I was asked this question most recently by an elementary classroom teacher, and since developmental age of children does matter when deciding what is appropriate, I decided to devote this blog to teaching critical family history in the elementary classroom. For […]

Critical Family History Book Review: Sycamore Row

How might family history, situated in its wider context, help to explain the actions of a dying man that otherwise seem (to many people, including his family) bizarre? This turns out to be the central question in John Grisham’s riveting novel Sycamore Row, released in 2013. The novel, set in Ford County, Mississippi, opens with […]

Review of White Bread

James Jupp, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning at Georgia Southern University, has written an amazing review of White Bread, my new novel. You can read a draft of his review on Academia.Edu, and if you wish, join an online discussion he is hosting on there about the book and the review. You can also upload a draft of […]

Whiteness of the Teaching Force

As students of color in the US become the new majority, there is growing concern about the persistent overwhelming whiteness of the teaching force. Just recently, for example, writing in the New York Times last month, Elizabeth Harris noted: Concerned that education schools were turning out too many middling graduates, states have been introducing more […]