Taking Back What Was Once Lost

Is The Wife Really The Mother Of All ...

Is The Wife Really The Mother Of All Those Children?

This week’s lesson comes from the Freedman’s Bank Records that I have been recently exploring. I once heard a lecturer say that up to 60% of the time, people are researching the wrong woman as mother of the children. This example shows the need to prove the father’s relationship to a child separately from the […]

Freedmans Bank Records: Take Another ...

Freedmans Bank Records: Take Another Look, Part 2

I’m continuing my tour through the voluminous information that can be discovered about our African-American ancestors in Freedman’s Bank Records. Last week was the first post in this series, and I’m suggesting that everyone take another look by *browsing* through these records. I’m giving examples in this series of all the things we can uncover. […]

Freedmans Bank Records: Take Another ...

Freedmans Bank Records: Take Another Look, Part 1

The records of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, better known as the Freedman’s Bank, are among the most popular records for those researching African-American roots. Established by Congress in 1865, the Bank was primarily designed to be for the use of the nation’s recently freed four and a half million former slaves. It eventually […]

The Civil War of Source Citations

The Civil War of Source Citations

Sometimes it can seem as if there is a civil war going on in the genealogical community. After we start researching our families, at some point we hear about the necessity of source citations. Once we figure out exactly what they are, and we see a few, some of us think, “That looks complicated. I […]

Remembering Vivian Vandross Waters, 1...

Remembering Vivian Vandross Waters, 1927-2014

Yesterday, my family celebrated the homegoing of Vivian Waters. The sun was showing off a little for February and it was a perfect day for the transition of a spirit like hers from this world into the next. Vivian was raised first on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and then later grew up in Philadelphia. […]

Shaky Leaves and the Importance of Th...

Shaky Leaves and the Importance of Thoroughness

I want to first thank Bernice Bennett for having me as a guest on her Blog Talk Radio show last night, Research at the National Archives and Beyond. I spoke about one of my most popular posts, Do You Have an Artificial Brick Wall? The post can be heard in its entirety at the show’s link, […]

The Crown Jewel: Black Civil War Pens...

The Crown Jewel: Black Civil War Pensions, Part 3

In this third and final post, I’d like to share a few more items illustrating the riches that can be found in civil war pension records. I was surprised at the number of former slaveowners (and whites in general) that supplied testimony to assist their former slaves to gain a pension. I would have thought there’d be more […]

Formulating Research Questions

Formulating Research Questions

Following a repeatable process to guide our genealogy research can make the difference between success on the one hand, and being  lost in papers and files years later with no where to go. There are so many things I wish I could whisper to my 1997 self when I first set out on this path, although there are some things I’m proud […]

My Top Five Discoveries for 2013

My Top Five Discoveries for 2013

Fifteen years into my research, I am still making incredible discoveries. This was a huge year for me in my family research. In many ways, some of these are even more satisfying than earlier discoveries, because they took piecing together evidence and clues in ways I couldn’t have done earlier. At any rate, it all serves […]

The Crown Jewel: Civil War Pensions, ...

The Crown Jewel: Civil War Pensions, Part 2

I hope everyone is returning from a wonderful holiday season and excited about a bright New Year. In Part 1 of this post, we began looking at examples of the riches that can be found in civil war pension records. We’ll continue in this post looking at how the lives of enslaved people are illuminated, […]

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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