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Taking Back What Was Once Lost

Posts in category General Research

Do You Have an Artificial Brick Wall?

Do You Have an Artificial Brick Wall?

My friend Aaron calls them artificial. They can also be called self-imposed brick walls. We say this to mean we have labelled something a brick wall that really isn’t a brick wall. We call them that even though we haven’t done our due diligence in terms of careful research. Consider these examples: We declare the brick wall of […]

The Fleet Family of Washington, D.C.

The Fleet Family of Washington, D.C.

Sometimes—well, probably a lot of times—our research veers off into an unexpected direction. Usually its because we come across a person or a circumstance that is of interest. My 3rd great-grandfather, Perry Simpson, married a woman named Margaret Fleet. I found her family quite interesting, even though she technically is not a blood relative. After […]

Researching Freed Blacks

Researching Freed Blacks

There is a good probability that many of us researching our African-American lines will find at least one line that was freed before 1865. In 1860, there were over 400,000 freed blacks in the U.S.. I like this map from the Schomburg migrations website: Although Northern cities like Philadelphia and Boston had large black populations, […]

Estate Inventories: Peek Into Their L...

Estate Inventories: Peek Into Their Lives

For those doing African-American research, antebellum estate inventories are a common resource used to find enslaved ancestors. But we should also get into the habit of looking at the other items on that inventory list, that help us visualize not just the slaveowner’s life, but also our ancestors. Even after the Civil War, scrutinizing our ancestor’s […]

The Definition of Black

The Definition of Black

Censuses provide the framework for much of the family history research that we do. Every once in a while, it is useful to consult the actual instructions that were given to enumerators for that particular census year. The University of Minnesota has posted them online to the eternal gratification of all genealogists. Of course, we […]

Matilda: Back Another Generation

Matilda: Back Another Generation

I have been having some tremendous breakthroughs in this past year. I am grateful for that. With every new name, a piece of me and and my history slides into place. Into memory. It is a rule of thumb in good genealogy practice to pull every record related to an ancestor, to perform “exhaustive research” […]

The Artifacts of Our History: Part 2

The Artifacts of Our History: Part 2

I enjoyed those who shared their family artifacts- they were all wonderful! Because I loved this topic so much, I’ve got to post just a few more of my current favorites. My dad attended Howard University and for awhile wrote a column in the school paper, The Hilltop. It’s pretty cool to read his columns […]

The Artifacts of Our History: Part 1

The Artifacts of Our History: Part 1

When I refer to an artifact, I am referring primarily to those items passed down within our families, or items we’ve dug up from family members during our quest.  Pictures are one kind of course, and family bibles, military papers, marriage and birth certificates, letters, deeds, and even quilts are things commonly found within families. […]

Legacy of the Rosenwald Schools

Legacy of the Rosenwald Schools

The Rosenwald Rural School Building Program was one of the most amazing things I discovered while on this genealogical journey. It perfectly illustrates how the efforts of a few visionary people can have results that positively affect hundreds of thousands. This should have been, and should be, in high school history textbooks everywhere. Julius Rosenwald […]

Free Class on Researching Local Histo...

Free Class on Researching Local History

My friend Marion is teaching a free class this Saturday at the Kensington branch of the Family History Center. Anyone who is in the local MD/DC/VA area should take the time to see this presentation. I blogged about her book awhile ago, and I’ll toot her horn a little to say her book was a […]

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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