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Honoring Our Ancestors
February 19, 2020


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

As usual, I've got a little bit of everything genealogy-wise in here, but this month I want to shout to the heavens to get your applications for Seton Shields Genealogy Grants in ASAP!! As mentioned before, I'm bringing this program to a close at the middle of this year on its 20th anniversary, so your window of opportunity to apply is shrinking fast! Tell your genie friends, OK?

Aside from that, please enjoy this month's assortment of genealogical goodies!

Until next time, keep on sleuthing!



The Family Tree of Pharrell Williams and Why He Almost Didn’t Exist

Last month, I asked folks to help me get from 900 to 1,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel, and y'all responded like crazy! I'm now up to 1,308 subscribers, a 45% increase!

I know it's out of sight, out of mind, so I've decided to periodically share a particular video to give y'all an idea of what's on there.

This one – about Pharrell Williams' roots – is one of my favorites. For one thing, he loved it! For another, it showcases one of those pockets of American history that many don't know about – the American Colonization Society and the (partially successful) effort to send "free blacks" (i.e., those who secured their freedom before Emancipation) in America to Liberia. Nat Turner is also a factor in this tale about an intriguing ancestor of Pharrell's, Ambrose Hawkins.

I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please consider sharing it. Thanks!

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Seton Shields Genealogy Grant #216: Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

Photo Credit: JSAAHC

The fourth quarter of 2019 had two grant recipients and I’m delighted to announce that the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center was the second. (You can read about the first recipient, ConferenceKeeper.org, here.)

The Isabella Gibbons Local History Center at the Heritage Center promotes the study of Charlottesville and Albemarle County local histories, with the goal of fostering a deeper understanding of the community’s lived environment. Through its various offerings, the Center archives and disseminates narratives that are relevant locally and add to the larger history of African Americans in Virginia and the nation.The Center provides intergenerational programs that expose new audiences to African American and local history research. Additionally, the Center presents genealogical lectures and symposia that consider new trends in genealogical research. It also offers meeting space for local genealogy groups and computers set up with ancestry.com. Currently, the BBS Afro-American Historical Genealogical Society (AAHGS) and Central Virginia History Researchers (CVHR) hold their monthly group meetings at the Center along with other community partners who all have a link to genealogical research.

Grant funds will assist with the purchase of a Panasonic AG-UX90 4K/HD Professional Camcorder, which will be used to videotape an oral history initiative kicking off this year.

You can apply for a Seton Shields grant here. Don’t miss checking out the cool projects I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to over the years, plus an article that will give you a behind-the-scenes peek into my grants program (and might help you increase your odds of being selected when you apply). And don't forget, the clock is ticking!

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Genealogy Round Up, February 13

Photo Credit: DPAA photo by Sgt. 1st Class Sean Everette
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Middlekauff, R.) – Welcome home, Pfc. Raymond H. Middlekauff. Honored to have researched your family.

Ancestry to lay off 6% of workforce because of a slowdown in the consumer DNA-testing market – First 23andMe and now Ancestry. Tough days for the genetic genealogy market.

Griffis: Happy birthday, Mr. President! – Some kind words from Joan Griffis who has been writing about genealogy for as long as I can remember. I think we first connected way back when my first book was published!

Genetic Family Reunion: DNA Reveals Alex Haley's Scottish Roots – Thought I’d share this trip down genetic genealogy memory lane from my YouTube channel about Alex Haley’s nephew's DNA testing. Cool update: Even though this was 11 years ago, Chris Haley and his cousin June Black remain close and just recently got together in London. Family is family!

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Genealogy Round Up, February 5

The Evolution of US Girl Names: Bubbled

Spring Grove soldier killed in Korean War to be honored with road dedication – Lovely local tribute for Cpl. Earl H. Markle, one of the soldiers I researched.

After 65 years, she learns she exists because Kenmore man rescued her dad – Love doing some sleuthing to help out Sean Kirst with his stories!

Memorial Service of Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson – 24-year-old African American fighter pilot killed in 1944 recovered; receives long overdue honors

Newberry Library weighs in on white glove controversy. Apparently TeamNoGloves.

Genealogists who can read (messy) old script are modern day code breakers.

Shakira ’s great-grandmother knew how to strike a pose. Her roots are claiming her.

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Genealogy Round Up, January 29

Genetics Explained

"If they're not your relatives and they're not my relatives, whose relatives are they?" by Liza Donnelly

This is my quiet protest against the tyranny and relentlessness of perhaps the most widespread of genealogical myths. – An oldie, but a goodie. No, your name wasn’t changed at Ellis Island.

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Genealogy Round Up, January 22

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack

Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (McCollum, W.) – Welcome home, Cpl. William James McCollum. Honored to have researched your family.

Remains found in North Korea identified as East Texas soldier missing since 1950 – Welcome home, PFC Junior Carl Williams. Honored to have researched your family.

So long, salt and vinegar: how crisp flavours went from simple to sensational – All praise to all archivists (official and otherwise), but this one went beyond the call of duty.

"Wayne Tomlinson, a 51-year-old from Doncaster who has collected more than 8,000 crisp packets since the 80s, stores them, neatly pressed, in cardboard boxes around his home."

The Roots Recipe for Betty White – Happy (recent) 98th to the amazing Betty White, our beloved Danish-Greek-Canadian-Welsh-English national treasure!

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Upcoming Events

After traveling around and speaking in 40 states and half a dozen countries, I decided to take a breather from the road to tend to some projects. That said, I'm sharing exceptions here. And by the way, you can see if I’ll be in your area any time by checking my Events Calendar.

  • July 29, 2020 – FEMA Book Club: "Who Do You Think You Are?"

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