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 […]

Critical Family History Book Review: The Hummingbird’s Daughter

How would you approach writing a novel — or even a short story — about someone in your family tree? This is a challenge I have wrestled with, and I found it incredibly difficult. On the one hand, I feared straying too far from the facts I was able to find about my ancestors and […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Book Review: Kin, a New Zealand Family

In her book about a New Zealand family, the McCulloughs, Melanie Nolan challenges us to think about the relationship between broad social structures (her main interest is social class and gender), individual agency, and the nexus of family. She explains in Kin: A Collective Biography (published in 2005 by Canterbury Press): “We choose our friends, our social networks […]