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. […]

Critical Family History

Very likely you haven’t encountered the term “critical family history” before. I’m pretty sure I invented it in relationship to family history. As a white person, I was seeking a conceptual framework that situates individual family stories within a wider analysis of social power relationships and culture. White people, especially those of middle class status […]

Book Review: The Hare with the Amber Eyes

A friend, knowing my interest in family history in its wider social context, recommended that I read Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes. What a wonderful book! Essentially, it is a memoir about de Waal’s Jewish ancestors in Europe prior to, then during, the Holocaust. One can read it as a moving and beautifully-written […]