My 3 Words for 2016

Since 2013, I have chosen three words to kick off my genealogy endeavors for the New Year. I credit this “three word” exercise to Chris Brogan who has challenged business bloggers for the past ten years to “replace resolutions with something a bit more useful” and attainable. I’ve learned so much about myself as a genealogy hobbyist and about my family from a historical perspective because of the “three words” I’ve selected each year!

My 3 Words Over the Years

2013:  First. Proof. Publish.
2014:  Serendipity. Collaboration. DNA.
2015: Preserve. Stretch. Connection.

So without further adieu —

My 3 Words for 2016 are . . . 

Personal. 

One of the first steps we share in the genealogy process is — record everything about “yourself” and members of your immediate family. Even though I have dates and milestones about my life documented in my files, what’s missing are the personal stories I want future generations of my family to know about me when I’m an ancestor in the tree one day. Therefore, I plan to add personal stories about my life in my files and share some of them on this blog this year.

“Go-Over.”

Family and friends who follow this blog know that I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for the past two years. Why? Life! Yes, the daily grind of life and tending to the needs of an aging parent took priority over any free time I had for research blogging. As I turn my attention to blogging again, I find a “go-over” is a must! What exactly is a “go-over?” It involves a careful review of all research I’ve completed to date. Being away from my files for a couple of years gives me an opportunity to “go-over” everything step-by-step with a fresh pair of eyes. I will be looking for any inconsistencies and mistakes I may have made or missed. This will allow me to update my research with new information that may not have been available for various ancestors when I first worked on their branch of my tree.

Believe.

I believe in my research. And the best part of all is that my family believes in my research too! I have a few history buffs in my family. So when I’m stumped by research leads or information I’ve found, I’m so glad to have family members willing to help me put facts and turn of events in order so that I’m able to move my family research forward. Their knowledge of our ancestors and memories of the past have been the support I’ve depended on through these years!

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Returns January 5, 2016

Finding Your Roots

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that Finding Your Roots is back again despite the Ben Affleck controversy. Oh yes! You see, when the decision was made to “scrub” any mention of Affleck’s slave-owning ancestors from his feature story last year, the truth still came out. Then producers found themselves in a very AWKWARD place of having to defend the integrity of the show to the public (you can read more about the controversy here). So, hopefully everyone involved has learned a valuable lesson here. And to Ben Affleck, slavery happened. Deal with it because you’re not the “only” white person in America to have slave-owning ancestors in your family tree! Well enough said about the past, check out season three details below!

The Stories We Tell
Season Three — Preview
Premiere date: January 5, 2016 @ 8/7 CST (check your local listing)

Since the première of his groundbreaking series, African American Lives, in 2006 through the first two seasons of Finding Your Roots, noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has unearthed the family histories of influential people helping shape our national identity. Professor Gates uses a team of genealogists to reconstruct the paper trail left by our ancestors and the world’s leading geneticists to decode our DNA and help us travel thousands of years into the past to discover the origins of our earliest forebears.

In season three of Finding Your Roots, Henry, Louis Gates, Jr. traces the ancestral trails of 28 new guests including Maya Rudolph, Richard Branson, Soledad O’Brien, Bill Hader, Julianne Moore, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Senator John McCain, Norman Lear, Shonda Rhimes, and more.

Temple University Photo

Share Your Story

Every family has a unique genealogical journey just waiting to be unlocked. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. asks you to share your own online at this link – http://www.pbs.org/weta/finding-your-roots/share-story/

Happy New Year, Claiming Kin Turns 5

Happy New Year Everyone!

I am so excited that this is the first day of 2016 because . . .
Claiming Kin turns 5 years old today!

That’s right, my blog here in cyberspace is growing up and I owe my growth to everyone who continues to support me. I’m so thankful to have a mom and brothers who get a big kick out of my passion for genealogy. As a result, I can call them any time of the day (or night) with questions and information about our family without them checking caller IDs to screen my calls — LOL!

I want to (((THANK))) Zachary Montz (Ph.D. student at University of Texas) and Thomas McWhorter (grad student at University of Houston), for contacting me to learn more about my dad and the class action law suit he and others filed against the discriminatory practices of the labor seniority system at Houston Armco Steel Corporation. Yes, I have an activist in the family that I will be blogging more about this year.

I also must (((THANK))) Amanda Fishel for contacting me last year when she discovered  my mtDNA GedMatch kits were a match to her great-great Aunt’s kit, to one of her cousin’s kits, and a small match to one of her own kits. Even though I was excited to have this DNA match, I was a little hesitant about responding to her at first. Why? I wasn’t sure how Amanda (who is not black) was going to feel about her connection to me and my African/African-American Ancestry. Well, it was a relief to know that she was not only cool with our connection, but willing to collaborate with me to find out how we’re related. I have a strong feeling this is the year we find that connection!

To all my genealogy friends who visit my blog and interact with me regularly via Twitter, Google+, and Facebook — THANK YOU! I appreciate your friendship, guidance, and your family’s history very much. I wish you and yours a — Happy New Year!

ACCM 2015: The Meaning of Christmas

Today is the twenty-third day of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015!

The featured topic is – the Meaning of Christmas – and the focus is on . . .
If someone dropped out of the sky and was unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas, how would you explain it to them? Can you put the meaning of Christmas into words? What does Christmas represent to you and is it different than when you grew up or from the meaning it had for your ancestors? Tell us what Christmas means to you and your memories of Christmases past.

When I thought about this featured topic and the possibility of meeting someone who was unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas, Charlie Brown’s question – “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”- to his friend Linus in the movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas, immediately popped in my head! Why did I think of Charlie Brown, and this movie? Well, everything I learned about Christmas and the birth of Christ in my early childhood Sunday School classes were summed up nicely by Linus when he responded to Charlie Brown’s question with this speech from the movie below –

Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.
[moves toward the center of the stage]
Linus Van Pelt: Lights, please.
[a spotlight shines on Linus]
Linus Van Pelt: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not:”
[Linus drops his security blanket on purpose]
Linus Van Pelt: “for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”[Luke 2:8-14 KJV]
Linus Van Pelt: [Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. [1]

Yes, Linus’ speech above is an excellent start, but the meaning of Christmas I believe is so much more than this. While surfing the Internet lately I came upon Pastor John MacArthur’s ‘Grace to You‘ website where he sums up the meaning of Christmas beautifully below –

For many, Christmas is the time to think of Jesus Christ as a baby in a manger. While the birth of Christ is a special and miraculous event, it isn’t the primary focus. The central truth of the Christmas story is this: the Child of Christmas is God . . . The humble birth of Jesus Christ was never intended to conceal the reality that God was being born into the world.” [2]

The deity of God is clear in n John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Then verse 14 of that same chapter of John continues , “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Source Citation –

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas Quotes. (1990, October 17). Retrieved December 25, 2015, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059026/quotes

2. MacArthur, J. (2006, October 23). What is the real meaning of Christmas? Retrieved December 25, 2015, from http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA70/what-is-the-real-meaning-of-christmas

Blog Caroling 2015: Glow

Blog Caroling 2015Blog Caroling with footnoteMaven (fM) is one of my favorite online activities to do this time of year! With fM‘s permission, Dear Myrtle – Your Friend in Genealogy – has invited genea-bloggers who would like to contribute to The Great Blog Caroling Songbook Edition 2015, to create their musical blog posts and share their links at the Friends of footnoteMAVEN Facebook Group.

I’ve been blog caroling since 2011 and have featured traditional Christmas carols such as What Child Is This?, as well as, commercial holiday songs like Sweet Little Jesus Boy and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. However, blog caroling is a virtual event and this year I have decided to feature the virtual holiday carol —Glow!

Glow  composed by Eric Whitacre, for the World of Color Honor Choir as part of the World of Color – Winter Dreams show that premiered during the holidays at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California in 2013 – is superbly done! So, why did I choose this carol and what makes it so special? For starters, it is a spectacular presentation. But more importantly, it’s performed by 1,473 singers (ages 18 and older) from all 50 states across America via the Internet! To learn more about the men and women who were a part of this project, visit Disney’s World of Honor Choir.

Enjoy Glow and  . . . Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Softly falls the morning snow,
Whispers to the sleeping world below;
“Wintertides Awakes”
Dawning breaks and sets the earth aglow.

In gentle tones of warmest white,
Proclaim the glory of Aurora’s light.

Sparrow sing in a clean, clear voice,
A sweet, silver carol for the season born.
Radiant wings as the skies rejoice,
Arise and illuminate the morn.

Softly falls the morning snow,
Whispers to the sleeping world below;
“Glow!”

— Edward Esch