SOURCE: London Review of Books
Francesca Morgan Dissects the American Obsession with Genealogy
by Thomas Laqueur
Questions about how Americans practice genealogy are in some ways less interesting that questions about why they do; all genealogies are ways of constructing pasts that explain and justify the present, and in America they are impossible to disentangle from racism.
New Resources Help Virginians Fill in Hidden Family Histories Including Enslaved Ancestors
“Researchers and librarians would say things like, 'That history just doesn’t exist.' Or, 'We just don’t have those records,'" Lydia Neuroth with the Library of Virginia explained. "But we are realizing we do. We just haven’t done a good job sharing it.”
SOURCE: New York Times
Gwendolyn Midlo Hall Kept the Identities of Enslaved from Archival Oblivion
After retiring from a career as a Latin Americanist, Hall documented the identities of thousands of people brought to Louisiana in slavery in the 18th century, an achievement others had thought neither possible nor necessary.
Newspaper Ads Freedmen Filed for Family Reunification Aid African American Genealogy Today
Historian Blair Kelley and NYT writer Rachel Swarns discuss the archival ads placed by the newly emancipated to locate family members, and how those fill in the gaps for descendants seeking to assemble family histories.
SOURCE: NBC News
New Digital Access to Freedmen's Bureau Records Boon to Black Genealogists
Ancestry.com has made 3.5 million records of the Freedmen's Bureau available to researchers, making family history and genealogy research much more accessible to African Americans and scholars of Black history.
Michigan State University Launches Online Database Chronicling North-Atlantic Slave Trade
Enslaved.org is a searchable database that contains millions of records representing enslaved Africans and their descendants.
SOURCE: Confederates in My Closet
Two Women Tackle Their Shared History
by Ann Banks
Ann Banks is interviewed along with Karen Orozco Guttierez about the two women's shared roots in antebellum Alabama.
SOURCE: New York Times
Ancestry Promises Holocaust Records Will Be Free
The U.S.C. Shoah Foundation has partnered with the genealogy giant, and an initial rollout faced a glitch. But some survivor families don’t want their histories public.
Tom Cotton's Slave-Owning Ancestors
If we dig into records of slave ownership, we can see that Tom Cotton’s family owned slaves.
How New Efforts Are Recovering the Stories of People Who Were Deleted From History
by Rachel Lance
For so many American families, lack of representation in paperwork might have otherwise led to a lack of representation in memory, but technology and crowdsourcing are finally bringing them out of the shadows.
SOURCE: Washington Post
The genealogy boom has hit a roadblock. The Trump administration plans huge fee hikes for immigration records.
The move has outraged professional and amateur genealogists, who argue that the increase would effectively put valuable immigration information out of reach for many.
SOURCE: New York Times
Ancestry Digitizes Millions of Holocaust Records
Some say it’s a play for customers; others say that’s irrelevant because anyone can search the documents at no cost.
This Long-Ignored Document, Written by George Washington, Lays Bare the Legal Power of Genealogy
by Karin Wulf
In Washington’s Virginia, family was a crucial determinant of social and economic status, and freedom.
SOURCE: Black Perspectives
The Problem With Ancestory.com
by Adam H. Domby
The search engine functions to hide both slave ownership and enslaved people from the eyes of contemporary genealogists.
Historian discovers he’s related to the people he’s written a book about
by John Sedgwick
And it changes his perspective on the value of genealogy.
When Did Americans Stop Marrying Their Cousins? Ask the World’s Largest Family Tree.
Researchers assembled 5 million family trees using data from the website Geni.com to test several genetic and historical hypotheses.
SOURCE: National Geographic
How DNA Is Reshaping How We See Ourselves—and Our History
by Simon Worrall
Many of our traits and decisions are shaped by our ancestors, author says.
SOURCE: The New Republic
The Mormon Church Is Building a Family Tree of the Entire Human Race
They already have 32 times the amount of information contained in the Library of Congress
How Do I Decode Slave Records?
For many African Americans the paper trail back to your ancestral origins hits a wall once you reach the slavery era. During the hunt for information about my great-great grandmother, Jane Gates, who was born into slavery in 1819, we were able to find her in the 1870 census, the oldest census to list all African Americans by name. Before then, few counties listed slaves by name, so we shifted gears and searched the "slave schedules" for the 1860 and 1850 census information for slave owners named Gates. However, we weren't able to find anyone under that name who owned a slave that was around her age. This means that she was owned by someone with a surname other than Gates, and the only way to find her by using records would be to undertake a systematic search of the estate papers, wills and tax records, and other documents of every slave holder in Allegany County, Md....
“Grandma Did What?” Digging Up the Roots of Family Lore
Researching one’s family tree has become a popular pastime, partly because parents want to pass on family stories to their kids, to give them a deeper sense of identity and history.Many old family legends, however, are at least partly false.Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist and author of “Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing,” says the stories passed down by families are often rooted in one of several common misperceptions. She summarizes them this way:“Three brothers came to America; one went north, one went south and one went west.” Many people assume they have family ties to large numbers of widely dispersed people with the same surname, but DNA testing and other genealogical tools often disprove it....
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