Critical Family History Book Review: Homegoing

What might a family history look and feel like that, while not based strictly on genealogy, portrays in exquisite detail who one’s ancestors could have been? This is the project debut novelist Yaa Gyasi undertook in her breathtaking debut novel Homegoing (Knopf, 2016). Perhaps her greatest impulse in creating Homegoing was articulated by one of […]

Four Generations of One Family’s Perspectives on Racism

During my doctoral program, I conducted two mini-studies on race and racism. The first was with successful Black professionals coping with micro aggressions in the workplace. I presented the findings from this study at the 2014 Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) conference in Houston where the audience had some interesting follow-up questions that led […]

Imah’s Legacy to a Science Educator

Most people call their grandmothers “granny,” “nannie” or simply “grandma”. Somehow, I knew the given Hebrew name for mother–“Imah” – which was what my grandmother told me to call her, revealed she was a phenomenal lady. As I analyzed closely the details of Imah’s life, it became apparent just how much she shaped my character as […]

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 […]

Ancestors unKnown: Interview with Dana Saxon

Christine: I am having a conversation with Dana P. Saxon, Founder and Executive Director of an exciting resources for teachers, youth, and community organizations called Ancestors unKnown. Dana, on the website, readers can learn about the profound impact genealogy research had on you and why you developed Ancestors unKnown. Briefly, what would you say was the […]

Unsettling Facts from the Past

Our family stories can often reveal unsettling facts from the past. When we examine these stories in the appropriate historical contexts, however, we can often glean important lessons that can help inform our present and our future. Understanding our family history can help us develop the sense of self and self-confidence that are essential tools […]

Lessons From My Grandfather

“46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your […]

Critical Family History Book Review: The Warmth of Other Suns

Can you re-theorize history based mainly on oral history interviews with elders who may not appear in many other historical records? That is exactly what Isabel Wilkerson did in her award-winning book The Warmth of Other Suns, which tells the story of the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West […]

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 […]