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The Best of Reclaiming Kin: Helpful Tips on Researching Your Roots

Genealogist Robyn Smith discusses the “roots” of her new book, The Best of Reclaiming Kin: Helpful Tips On Researching Your Roots.” The book is acompilation of posts from the popular website that focus on teaching family historians genealogical research skills and introducing them to records and resources. Ms. Smith has a special focus on slavery and researching the enslaved.  She describes that focus in the article below.

I have been researching my family and other African American families for almost 18 years. Six years ago I decided to develop and author a genealogy “blog” based upon my research. While initially I imagined a forum to share my discoveries and document my research, the voice of the teacher in me became louder and transformed the blog into a platform to teach genealogical skills and best practices and to highlight various ways to use records to solve family puzzles.

My interest and experience in the ever-daunting research of slavery and enslaved people remains a key focus of Reclaiming Kin. Slave research is one of the most difficult kinds of genealogical research for obvious reasons. Contrary to popular belief, however, there are tens of thousands of original records that discuss the enslaved. Slaves were valuable property and slaveowners documented their property well. Because of slavery, most African-Americans have much longer histories in this country than they’d imagine, and depending upon time and place, it is not uncommon to be able to trace your enslaved roots to the 1800s and in some cases, the 1700s.

A good friend suggested that I take the content at Reclaiming Kin and transform it into book format. “You’ve got so much material on here over the years, so many strategies and research tips,” he said. Others shared a similar sentiment. Publishing the blog into book form would enable readers to have better access to the genealogical knowledge shared at Reclaiming Kin. New readers would probably not spend the many hours it would take to read the older entries which are spread across