The Genealogy of Privilege

I’ve been a fan of Henry Louis Gates’s programming since he launched African American Lives in 2006. In Gates’s programs, he introduces celebrities to their past through various documents and photographs. I find the most compelling work to explore lesser … Continue reading

Samuel Adams’s Mother Was a Fifield

Back in the early aughts, I was a Collection Care Specialist in Textiles and Fashion Arts (TFA) at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I was working on a National Endowment for the Arts grant to photograph and perform condition … Continue reading

Postpartum Depression and Witchcraft

If you have had a baby, you know the months afterward can be tough, and memorable. There are numerous explanations as to what lunacy gripped Salem Village (now Danvers) in 1692. Ergot poisoning. Adolescent girls seeking power. Class inequality. Disputes over … Continue reading

On Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the descendant of Decoration Day, when the graves of Civil War casualties would be marked in memory. Today, we use the holiday to remember all veterans’ service, letting the day encroach on Veterans Day, where all US … Continue reading

Museum Monday – Chester County Historical Society

In addition to Swarthmore College’s Friends Historical Library, Wednesday also took me to the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, Pennsylvania. This is local history at its best – and very well-supported. CCHS has a complex in West Chester’s … Continue reading

Museum Monday: Maryland State Archives in 2013

For a building built in 1984, I think the Maryland State Archives inspires. Maybe it strikes a chord with me akin to the library buildings of my childhood. Unlike it’s colonial and colonial revival ancestors further down Rowe Blvd in … Continue reading

Westward Ho! My Third Great Grandfather Travels, in 1851

Ancestry.com, as a genealogical tool, is a start for many doing genealogy. I see it as a way to sketch and share only. There are a lot of problems with it, but it’s certainly quicker than cranking through all those … Continue reading

What’s Left Behind: A Harford County, Maryland Probate Inventory

Both of my great great great grandparents died in 1857, leaving my fifteen year old great great grandfather  (at right) an orphan. Interestingly, he never appears in the census until after his marriage in 1880 when he was nearly forty … Continue reading

The Proof Is On the Cotton Swab: DNA and Genealogy

I am a family history geek. I also happen to be a genetics geek too, and if I hadn’t chosen a career in museums, I would have been seriously tempted by science(Dr. V is a scientist!) So when Ancestry.com offered … Continue reading

Potato Rolls – A Family History

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas is marked by my great grandmother Winifred’s potato rolls. For those of us who grew up in the mid-Atlantic, these are not the same as those squishy yellow Martin’s potato rolls. They are white yeast rolls, … Continue reading