A New Zealander’s Story of Italian Family Roots

A couple of years ago while I was in New Zealand, a friend who knew of my interest in family history gave me a copy of Tessa Duder’s book In Search of Elisa Marchetti: A Writer’s Search for her Italian Family. My friend’s grandmother was a sister of Duder’s grandmother. Tessa Duder is a prolific and […]

Critical Family History Book review: Delinsky’s Family Tree

What might a baby, born with African American features to a White couple, reveal about their own family? Barbara Delinsky’s Family Tree asks this complicated question. The question of the origins of baby’s appearance took the White couple, Hugh and Dana Clarke, in quite different directions. To Dana, whose knowledge of her own family tree […]

Lost Histories of Bilingualism

A week ago, while watching the Superbowl with friends, I saw Coca Cola’s now-famed ad E Pluribus Unum. At first, I was puzzled why I wasn’t following the lyrics to America the Beautiful, then realized they were being sung in multiple languages — English, Spanish, Keres (an indigenous American language), Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese French and […]

Adoption in Family History

My grandson has six grandparents, only two of whom he is biologically related to. Sometimes I wonder how he might handle a family history assignment a teacher may give in school. Let me explain his family situation since adoption and blended families are increasingly common. My partner and his former wife adopted and raised a boy, now a […]

Locating East Asian Family Roots

I have been asked on various occasions how to locate East Asian family roots, especially information about which ancestors immigrated where and when, and how to locate roots prior to immigration. Since different Asian American groups differ in history, timing and circumstances surrounding waves of immigration, family structure, and so forth, most online tools are group-specific […]

Family History and Gender

What does an analysis of family history and gender reveal for a specific time period, geographical location, social class status, and racial/ethnic community? Writing in 1990 about “Beyond Separate Spheres: Feminism and Family Research,” Myra Ferree wrote, “Gender theory explains how specific behaviors and roles are given gendered meanings, how labor is divided to express gender […]

Visiting Where your Ancestors Lived

While increasingly one can find information about family history online, you may also learn a great deal visiting where your ancestors lived, if at all possible. I have had the opportunity to visit small towns in Illinois, Tennessee, and Colorado, and found such visits very helpful! The first time I tried such a visit, I […]

Family Oral History Interviews

Family oral history interviews are an excellent place to start looking into one’s own family history. From older family members, you can learn a good deal about the family tree, what various members of the family tree were like, where people lived and why they moved or stayed put, what their lives were like, and so […]

Mining the Census for African Americans

There are several guides and tools on the web to help locate African American ancestors. The website MySlaveAncestors offers some fairly specific guidance for people who are new to doing this work. Since the guidance on that website applies tools in this blog to the search for African American ancestors, I decided to try to trace […]

Wars, Indigenous Peoples, and Bounty Land Warrants

Today being Indigenous People’s Day (known to many as Columbus Day), it is fitting to look critically at one of the historic processes in U.S. history that served to transfer Indigenous people’s land to whites. Bounty land warrants constituted a form of “thanks” for service in military campaigns that extended white control over North America. […]