Taking Back What Was Once Lost

Robyn Speaking at Philadelphia Confer...

Robyn Speaking at Philadelphia Conference

For my readers in the Philadelphia area, come see me lecture on my popular topic, “Do You Have An Artificial Brick Wall?” It’ll be this Saturday, October 22 at the Family History Center at 3913 Chestnut Street. This sponsored by the African American Genealogy Group and is free but requires registration using the form that […]

Never Rely On Just the Census

Never Rely On Just the Census

  Ah, the census. The glorious census. It’s such an important document in genealogy, I would venture to say even a foundational document. But its flaws are many. Those who rely on only the census to reconstruct their ancestral families do so at the risk of recreating a family inaccurately. I’ve discussed this topic before, but this lesson […]

Verify Your Oral History

Verify Your Oral History

One of the first things we’re instructed when we begin our genealogy journey is to interview our family members, especially our elders. This is by far one of the most important things for us do. Our family members can provide information we may never find in documents. It has always been to me, one of […]

A Slave’s Letter to His Former ...

A Slave’s Letter to His Former Master

UPDATE: After I posted this, I discovered more articles about the history of Jordan Anderson, the author of this amazing letter. The Smithsonian wrote an article  and  I especially enjoyed this article in the UK’s Daily Mail, which provides extensive background research on Jordan. In terms of genealogy, this author satisfies family historians. Jordan Anderson was indeed a real person as was […]

Deed Record Bonanza

Deed Record Bonanza

I’ve discussed deeds in this blog before and why they should be a cornerstone record in uncovering the lives of your ancestors. I want to illustrate in this post how using deeds connected a family from the 1850’s through the mid-twentieth century. Levin Waters and many of my other ancestors lived in Somerset County, Maryland in […]

The Ku Klux Klan Hearings

The Ku Klux Klan Hearings

In 1871, the U.S. Government decided to hold hearings on the rampant violence in the South by the Ku Klux Klan and other white terrorist organizations. The official name of these records is the “Report of the Joint Select Committee Appointed to Inquire Into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States,” but they are […]

Thomas S. Sudler Account Book

Thomas S. Sudler Account Book

I’ve written before about the information that can be found in what I call Community Papers: account books, diaries, ledgers, loose papers, family records, etc. These are the papers of (usually) men in the communities we are researching, such as doctors, merchants. Almost every library and archives has these kinds of papers housed in their […]

Perry Simpson Found in Freedmen’...

Perry Simpson Found in Freedmen’s Bureau Records

Finally- I found a needle in a haystack. I found my 4th great-grandfather, Perry Simpson, in Freedmen’s Bureau records! I have probably looked through thousands of pages of these records through the years and that is no exaggeration. I found his name in a Register of Letters Received in the Field Office Records for Maryland […]

“Passed and Present” and ...

“Passed and Present” and Other Family History Finds

Periodically, I like to offer suggestions on family history-related materials that may be of interest to my readers. There are a few books I’d like to recommend: One is called “Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive,” by Allison Gilbert. I had not come across anything like this before and the topic intrigued […]

DNA Bombshell: John Smith Origins Unc...

DNA Bombshell: John Smith Origins Uncovered

This story is actually several months old—I think I had to let the emotion wear off a little to think clearly enough for a post. I’ve been aware for some time of the amazing discoveries that people have been having with DNA testing the past few years. I had taken a test about 10 years […]

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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


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