Critical Family History Book Review: Bella’s Legacy

Who was Bella, and what might be her legacy? In her debut novel, Luanna Meyer fictionalizes four generations of her family history, with a focus on the women and their life choices. Journalist Bella Colquhoun emerges as the novel’s fictionalized writer. Young widowhood, lost babies, triumph and regret, conflict and reconciliation, dreams taken up and […]

Critical Family History Book Review: Before we were Yours

Adoption presents challenges to family historians. Perhaps the greatest challenge is figuring out how important it is to trace biological ancestors, especially if they have had little or no role in actually raising a person. Lisa Wingate, in Before we were Yours (Ballantine, 2017), grapples with this question, although her purpose is mainly to critique […]

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 […]

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, […]

German-American Internment in the U.S. Heartland

I became interested in German-American internment during the two World Wars when I found out that roughly 11,000 German Americans were, in fact, interned – a history few of us know. While none of my German-American ancestors were interned, one of my great-grandfathers, a German Methodist minister born in Germany, could well have been interned […]

Family History Books for Kids

How might teachers or parents guide young family historians? Just like considerable information exists in books and on the Internet for adults, so too are there many websites and books for kids. Here, I review three family history books for kids in the U.S. I selected them more or less out of a hat. When […]

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 […]