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 […]

Use Context to Fill in Family History

I was born and raised in Kitui, Kenya. I teach 4th and 5th grade Newcomers at Place Bridge Academy in Denver Public Schools. I have been teaching for the last eight years. I am a master’s student in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity with an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education at the University […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Hidden Four Ps and Immigration

 In the fall of 2012 and again in spring 2013, Dr. Kevin Kumashiro and I co-taught an undergraduate course called “Introduction to Asian American Studies.” We examined the diversity and experiences of Asian Americans, like the transnational labor brokering of Filipinos and the binary of race relations between African Americans and Koreans during the 1992 […]

Becoming White: Putting Race Back into a Family Story

I grew up hearing stories about a great-great-grandmother who immigrated from Switzerland to the U.S. by way of New Orleans. According to stories, she was a linguist who spoke four or five languages fluently, an accomplished seamstress, and a medium. (My siblings and I loved the idea of a New Orleans fortune-teller in the family […]

Asking Historical Context Questions

Usually when doing family history research, people construct a family tree and locate as much as they can about individual family members, then stop without considering much about the context of family members’ lives. Why is asking historical context questions important? Contexts in which people were living help to explain how they lived, why they may […]