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Taking Back What Was Once Lost

Follow the Witness: They May Have the...

Follow the Witness: They May Have the Answer

Many of our artificial brick walls are caused by our inability to extract every clue from each source. One of my favorite suggestions is to tell people to Follow the Witness. Many of the most common sources we use, such as deed records, probate records and marriage records, are legal documents that in many cases needed […]

Are Your Assumptions Leading You Astr...

Are Your Assumptions Leading You Astray?

It’s fine to make assumptions during your genealogical research. In fact, we all do it whether we think we do or not. Here’s the thing: as we review our sources and uncover evidence, we have to remember our assumptions and be willing to let them go in light of new information. We need to follow where […]

Extracting Every Clue From the Census

Extracting Every Clue From the Census

The census could probably rightfully be called the foundational resource upon which much of our research builds upon. After interviewing our family members and elders, and farming the family attics and basements for documents, many of us turn to the census records. It begs a question. Have you learned to sift through each census record […]

A Walk Through County Court Minutes

A Walk Through County Court Minutes

  Have you ventured into the waters of county court records yet? Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows I am a big fan of court records. Today, I’d like to walk you through the kinds of things you can find in county court records. As I’ve mentioned before, court records are an intermediate/advanced resource—I […]

9 Tips for Family Photographs

9 Tips for Family Photographs

By far, one of the things that has drawn me to family research is the beautiful family photographs that we often come across. I have “picture envy” for the collections of some of my friends (one of my favorites is the header on Mel Collier’s blog). I have collected hundreds over the years and there […]

“The Best of Reclaiming KinR...

“The Best of Reclaiming Kin” Is Here

  After almost two years of work, “The Best of Reclaiming Kin” is finally here. Follow this link to find out more about the book and how you can order your own copy today. I am so excited!  

Genealogy Resource Recommendations

Genealogy Resource Recommendations

I’ve talked before on this blog about the importance of reading genealogical books in order to learn about how to use various record sets. I want to highlight two of the best resources for genealogical research that some of you may be unaware of. The book “The Source” has been a mainstay of genealogists since […]

Slave Research: Four Things You Need ...

Slave Research: Four Things You Need to Know

I’ve been conducting slave research on my family and teaching others how to do it for about 18 years now. There are a few points I tend to mention repeatedly on Reclaiming Kin, but thought it would be a good idea to list some of those ideas for other researchers all in one place. Especially […]

U.S. Colored Troops

U.S. Colored Troops

For many years now, I’ve been interested in researching U.S. Colored Troops who served in Union forces from the communities where my family lived. Most people know by now that almost 200,000 black people, slaves and free blacks, served in the Union Army and Navy. The Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 finally began the process of […]

Slaves Search For Their Families in N...

Slaves Search For Their Families in Newspapers

One of the many reasons slaveowners conjured up to justify the buying and selling of people, especially when breaking up families, was that enslaved people did not form the same attachments to their children and spouses as whites did. Elizabeth Keckley was a former slave who later became famous as Mary Lincoln’s seamstress. In her […]

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About Me

I blog, teach, write and lecture about family history research and it's just as rewarding today as it was when I began 18 years ago. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my past and I've taken back--reclaimed- my kin and some of that lost memory.  

Post History

What I Talk About

Locations and Surnames

Hardin, Chester and Lawrence Counties, TN
Holt, Barnes, Harbour, Bradley Springer and Fendricks
Lawrence County, AL
Springer and Fendricks
Montgomery County, MD
Prather, Simpson
Somerset County, MD
Waters, Fountain, Curtis
Duval and Madison County, FL
Smith, Harris, Garner

Favorite Family History Quotes

"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
-William Faulkner

"Call it a clan, call it a network, all it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one"
- Jane Howard

"Friends are God's apologies for relations."
-Hugh Kingsmill

"No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?"
-Elbert Hubbard

"Families are like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts."

"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you might as well make it dance!"

"Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city;)"
-George Burns

"Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl. No superior alternative has yet been found."
-Winston Churchill

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never ever introduce yourself to had life not done it for you."
-Kendall Hailey

"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."
-Thich Nhat Hanh