Authors: Edna Gail Bush and Natonne Elaine Kemp
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions remain my own.
Genealogy has become something of an obsession for many people today. There have been shows about it, Ancestry makes lots of money off it. It seems that more and more people are driven to discover their ancestral roots.
I am no exception. I am a Latter-day Saint, and honoring our ancestors is an important part of our beliefs. I think this made me a good choice to review this book. In this little book, the authors, both of whom are African American, describe their attempts to uncover more of their family heritage. They combine family stories and photographs with the latest research techniques and new sites that use your DNA to pinpoint your unique heritage.
They also go through all the records they search, looking for the slightest clue to how their ancestors lived and what they experienced. Land records, census, court and probate records all work to complete a fuller picture. It’s not all pretty. Since like many African Americans, some of their ancestors were enslaved and some were the slaveholders, it shines a light on a dark and ugly chapter of American history.
As far as the writing and the style goes, I’m a little torn. They definitely could have summarized more of the steps they took to find out the information, and just included what they found out. Sometimes the actual research parts – what records they found and where – was a little boring. On the other hand, I think this book could also be viewed as an instructional book for other African Americans trying to find out what records exist for their history. I think it could be very valuable in that way. I loved all the stories they included and they way the writers reached out to living family members to hear the stories they grew up with.
In all, I would say this book is not for everyone, but if you are interested in researching your family tree, and especially if you have southern African American roots, this book would be one you’d want to read.