Family Herstory

I’ve spent fourteen years on this platform, writing about my family’s trees. I’ve written about postcards and photographs, pension files and census lists.

The most satisfying posts connected people to details in humanizing ways. Of course not every entry succeeded. I am much more discriminating about pressing “publish” these days, so fewer posts are getting beyond my brain to potential readers and cousins and linked descendants.

I guess I keep trying because I am stubborn, and deeply curious as to how all of this (waves hands wildly) pertains to the ongoing debates about history, whose story gets told, whose narrative survives the present. Resistance genealogy is a thing, I truly believe this. So…

I keep trying–to make the uncomfortable, comfortable. To make the comfortable, uncomfortable.

Many of the hints we genealogists have to chase (and in some cases all) are buried in documents indexed only by male surnames. I shouldn’t be so surprised at my own omission of women from my family’s tales.

This year I gave myself a challenge to zoom in on my female ancestors and the women who encircled them. An edX course “Seeking Women’s Rights: Colonial Period to the Civil War” taught me to “read against the grain” to hear the voices of women–white and black.

Resistant readings scrutinize the beliefs and attitudes that typically go unexamined in a text, drawing attention to the gaps, silences and contradictions.

Off I go into 2023–a year of family herstory.

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