I have always been interested in genealogy, but having children made me more invested than ever in unearthing my family’s stories. I wanted to show my children what “biracial” really meant, piecing together their father’s Scottish and Russian Jewish ancestry with my Black Arkansas and San Francisco roots.
At the same time, I felt the need to bolster what “Black” really meant. My husband could point to the specific villages his forebears left behind. How far back could I trace my own, formerly enslaved, ancestors?
Once I tried to trace my mother’s family back to specific plantations. For those who don’t know, the best way to do this is to compare census records with the family wills of slave owners because they often mentioned slave names in their wills. A lover of research, I happily immersed myself in a scanned antebellum document, deciphering the copper-plate handwriting.