First Annual Black Family History Day Event at TSLAC on Saturday, February 13th

Kudos to all my Austin, Texas genealogy friends who will be attending the Texas State Library and Archives Commission‘s first event devoted to black family history research Saturday, February 13, 2016, from 12 noon – 3 PM! This event is in collaboration with the Austin History Center and the Carver Genealogy Center

1st Annual Black Family History Day

Attendees will learn best practices and tips for starting their family research, as well as, learn about area resources, and have an opportunity to ask questions related to their research.

Sessions include:

Noon – 12:45 pm – Documenting Your History workshop led by LaToya Devezin, African-American Community Archivist at the Austin History Center.

1 pm – 1:45 pm – Resources for African-American [sic] at TSLAC presented by Tonia Woods, Senior Reference Archivist at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

2 pm – 2:45 pm – Genealogy Discussion forum moderated by Cynthia Evans, Genealogy Coordinator at the Carver Genealogy Center.

Seats are limited. Parking is available at the Capitol Visitors Garage and metered parking along San Jacinto Blvd. For more information or to reserve a space, email Ashley Stevens, Education and Outreach Coordinator at or call at 512-463-9807.

I hate I won’t be able to attend this event this year. But trust and believe, if this is an annual event, I plan to be there next year!


Black History Month 2014 at the Clayton Library for Genealogical Research

It’s Black History Month 2014 and the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research will be offering an excellent weekend of seminars with Tony Burroughs and Franklin Smith. So if you love genealogy or need help with your slave ancestry research, and you live in or near the Houston area, this is a weekend you don’t want to miss!

Follow Your African American Roots with Tony Burroughs/ Buffalo Soldier’s Museum
Date: 2/21/2014
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Sponsored by the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research

This events will begin with a presentation on the research of Buffalo Soldier ancestry by Mr. Burroughs, which will take place on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, 3816 Caroline, Houston, TX, 77004. While reservations are not required, space is limited.

Visit the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum online!

As part of Black History Month, Clayton Library is proud to offer a weekend of seminars presented by Tony Burroughs and local author Franklin Smith. Mr. Burroughs is an internationally known genealogist, author and lecturer and author of Black Roots: A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree. He is often interviewed by local, national and international media for his genealogy expertise. Mr. Smith has published several articles in genealogical periodicals and co-authored the book entitled Discovering Your African-American Ancestors: How to Find and Record Your Unique Heritage.

African American History Month
Age Group(s): all ages
Date: 2/22/2014
Time: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM

On Saturday, Burroughs and Smith will discuss a variety of subjects in the field of African American genealogical research. This event will take place on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. in the Auditorium at the Julia Ideson Building, 550 McKinney, 77002. This event is free and open to the public; however, RSVPs are requested. You may reserve your space by calling the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research at 832-393-2600. Self-Pay Parking will be available beneath the library or on the surrounding streets.

The day’s class schedule is as follows;

Black Roots: Tracing the Family Tree 9:15 AM – 10:15 AM

This is a fun, inspirational talk for beginners and people with no knowledge of genealogy research. It contains humorous stories of research and how an important 100-year-old riddle was solved, mending bad family feelings. It has easy, practical methods and sources that anyone can use the next day to begin researching their family history.

From Census to Slavery 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Most African American researchers try to leap from census records to slave research, bypassing a multitude of records in between. A broad foundation after the Civil War will increase the probabilities of success during the slavery period.

Follow Your African American Roots to Clayton Library 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM

This is a Lunch and Learn presentation by Franklin Smith. Learn about the many resources at Clayton that will help you find the information you need when researching African-American Ancestors.

Methods and Sources of Identifying Slave Owners 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Everyone is not fortunate enough to have had the name of the last slave owner passed down from generation to generation through oral history. Therefore, if this name is unknown, research must be conducted to identify the former slave owner – essential to researching slave genealogy. Many texts and many researchers overlook this crucial question. Identifying the slave owner is based on evidence, not assumption. There are many records that show the name of the former slave owner. Learn how to prove who the last slave owner was. This presentation will also cover some of the unique problems associated with African American surnames, which sometimes lead our research astray.

The Six Phases of African American Genealogy 2:15 PM – 3:15 PM

This is an overview of the methods and sources in the six distinct phases that are the building blocks of African American genealogy. It progresses from beginning to more advanced research, highlighting some of the problems and complexities of African American genealogy along the way. It is designed for beginners, intermediates and advanced researchers

Library: Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Registration Ends: 2/20/2014 at 12:00 AM

Other Information:
Visit the Julia Ideson Building online!

My 3 Words for 2014

Thanks to Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works, I adopted a new tradition last year that involves choosing 3 words that would be the action steps I take in my genealogy endeavors for the year. My 3 Words for 2013 were — First. Proof. Publish. 

What went well in 2013?

  • I was very successful in creating those “First” experiences here at Claiming Kin! Adding the “New Here?” page to my blog definitely made everyone who surfed in feel welcomed into the family and given a reason to stick around and connect with me. Therefore the engagements and discussions I had with newly found cousins (online and offline) and visiting researchers who thought the lives of my ancestors were fairly intriguing enough to want to know more about them was — PHENOMENAL!
  • Providing valid “Proof” of my family connections in my research process and citing my sources (APA Style) definitely played a major part in why I had active engagements and discussions here throughout the year!

What didn’t go well in 2013?

  • I didn’t get to “Publish” the eBooks I wanted to. BUT, one of my eBooks for “the beginning genealogy hobbyist” is in progress now. If all goes well, the e-book will be ready Fall 2014 . . . woo-hoo!

My 3 Words for 2014 are:


I believe Lawrence Block, a popular American crime writer, said it best when he penned —

Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.”

I cannot begin to list all the “unexpected” discoveries I made about one ancestor while searching for another last year. Therefore, I want more of those experiences! But for that to happen, I must remember NOT to make assumptions about any of the resources and records available, online or offline, because I don’t believe my slave ancestors would be found in them. I must explore ALL resources and records with no preconceived ideas about what I will, or won’t, find in them. Genealogy, in a nut-shell, is problem-solving work. So as I go about reconstructing the lives and identities of my ancestors this year (and beyond), I want some serendipity thrown in there for good measure . . . for without it there would be no cool surprises waiting for me along the way!


Slave Ancestry is challenging work and to fully understand the process requires that I have knowledge about the African Diaspora and the slave experience in America! One thing my association with the African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research Group (AAGSAR) has taught me is how necessary “active” collaboration with like-minded researchers is to my slave research success! Collaborating in this grassroots group has allowed me to help some incredible new family historians with their research, as well as, learn strategies for moving my slave ancestry work “back” beyond the 1870 census. AAGSAR is an interactive genealogy community I’m proud to belong to and more collaboration at this level is a MUST for me!


I believe the time has come for me to learn how to use my DNA data (and my brother’s recent Y-DNA data) to expand my family research! There has been a lot written about genetic genealogy last year; a number of  advancements in this area of study has made it possible for me to decide if I’m related to others with the same surname and to identify my geographic/ethnic ancestral origin. But my real inspiration for wanting to learn how to use my DNA data comes from closely observing the family connections AAGSAR members Kristin Williams, True Lewis, Maurice BellTeresa Vega, and others in the group have blogged about because of DNA testing.  I want to learn as much as I can about this field so that I can use my results to enhance my experience with relatives. Yes indeed! I’m ready for all my genetic testing has to offer!

Have you set some genealogy goals for yourself this year? Yes?! No?! Feel inspired to choose *three* words that would help focus your goals and efforts with your family research this year? If yes, what three words would you choose? Let me know your thoughts, but most of all Happy Ancestor Hunting to you this year!

Road Trip: The Galveston and Texas History Center (GTHC)

Its been a while since I’ve been on a genealogy road trip and it seems the only facility near Houston that has Galveston City Directories (from 1856 – to current) for me to continue my search for Lewis Chapple is the Rosenberg Library in Galveston. So Friday (9 August 2013), my genealogical journey took me to Galveston!

Map to the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, TX

My Map to the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, TX

The Rosenberg Library, named after the city’s prominent business leader and philanthropist, Henry Rosenberg, is a very nice facility! According to the library’s website, [1]

[t]he building itself was dedicated on June 22, 1904, . . .[and as] successor to the Galveston Mercantile Library, which was founded in 1871, Rosenberg Library is the oldest public library in Texas in continuous operation.”

Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas

Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas. Photo Credit: Rosenberg Library

As soon as I arrived, I was directed to the Galveston and Texas History Center (GTHC) located on the 4th floor of the Moody Memorial Wing.

The Galveston and Texas History Center

The Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library. Photo Credit: Rosenberg Library

This center – [2]

preserves and organizes archival materials that document the history of Galveston and Texas, focusing on Galveston from the city’s incorporation in 1839 through the present. The collection also relates to Texas from the Spanish period to the end of the Civil War.”

After signing the guestbook, Archivist Carol Wood gave me a brief overview of the center and helped me locate the city directories that I needed. Because so much of what is archived in this center is unique and fragile, before I could use any of the machines and materials, I had to agree in writing to the guidelines and regulations of the center. A list of the GTHC’s guidelines for patron behavior are online at –  Once my purse and the steno tablet I brought with me were stored away in a locker, Ms. Wood provided pencils and note paper for me to jot down notes as I perused Galveston City Directories in search for Lewis Chappel!

So what are some of the resources available to genealogists at the Rosenberg Library and Galveston and Texas History Center (GTHC)? LOTS! Here’s a quick sampling of what’s you’ll find and more below:

  • Census Records
  • Tax Records
  • Birth Records
  • Death Records
  • Marriage Records
  • School Records
  • Funeral Home Records
  • Cemetery Records
  • Passenger Lists
  • City Directories
  • Church /Temple Records
  • Newspapers

You can view their Special Collections online

To learn more about the various resources available at this facility, feel free to download the handout I received when I visited the center:
Genealogical Research Materials at the Rosenberg Library and GTHC

If you are unable to visit the Rosenberg Library and the GTHC in person, limited reference service is provided for a fee. Visit this link – – for more information regarding research requests.

So was my road trip a success? Did I learn any new information to assist with my search for Lewis Chappel?

Most definitely! The Galveston City Directories were enlightening, but I believe searching the library’s newspaper databases provided me with the most interesting information regarding my great-grandparents’ relationship during the mid to late 1900’s. I sure hated to leave this library – LOL! Lucky for me, I learned that their library cards are also free to residents of the State of Texas . . . woo-hoo! So with my new Rosenberg Library card, I’ve been able to pick up where I left off at their facility in the comforts of my home and I cannot wait to share my findings with you!

So stay tuned for there’s more to come in my search for Lewis Chappel!

Source Citation:

1. Library History. (n.d.). Rosenberg Library. Retrieved August 10, 2013, from

2. Rosenberg Library – The Galveston and Texas History Center. (n.d.). Rosenberg Library – the Cornerstone. Retrieved August 10, 2013, from

Press Release: TLC Reveals Full List of Contributors for New Season of Who Do You Think You Are?

It seems my favorite genealogy TV show Who Do You Think You Are?  is about to make a comeback, July 23, 2013 in fact! So check out the Network TV Press Release below and your local TV listings for more information!
TLC Reveals the Celebrity Contributors on Who Do You Think You Are? Including Kelly Clarkson & Jim Parsons – Video
Written By Sara Bibel
June 26th, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are?

TLC REVEALS FULL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS FOR NEW SEASON OF “Who Do You Think You Are?” All-new episodes, helmed by EPs Lisa Kudrow & Dan Bucatinsky, set to premiere July 23

TLC premieres a brand-new season of the fan-favorite reality series Who Do You Think You Are? on Tuesday, July 23, with eight episodes featuring celebrities on a journey into their own personal histories. TLC has ordered eight new hour-long episodes of the Emmy-nominated series.

Today, the network announces the full line-up of contributors who will embark on a remarkable exploration of their surprising pasts, revealing unknown details about themselves and their families:

Christina Applegate

Kelly Clarkson

Cindy Crawford

Zooey Deschanel

Chelsea Handler

Chris O’Donnell

Jim Parsons

Trisha Yearwood

TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? opens the door to the fascinating real life stories of some of the most well known names in America, sharing how the eye-opening revelations they uncover about their backgrounds will impact their lives., the world’s largest online family history resource, is teaming up with TLC as a sponsor of the upcoming season. As part of the show sponsorship, provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities, which is used to frame the story of each episode.

Keep up with Who Do You Think You Are? on Social Media with hashtag #WDYTYA and at the site

Who Do You Think You Are? Is produced for TLC by Shed Media US and Is or Isn’t Entertainment. The series is based on an original format created by Wall to Wall Media and Alex Graham.

About TLC

TLC is a global brand that celebrates extraordinary people and relatable life moments through innovative nonfiction programming. A top 10 cable network in key female demos, TLC has built successful consumer brands around series including Cake Boss, and has transformed Fridays into “BrideDay” with a lineup of wedding-themed programming anchored by the Say Yes to the Dress franchise. In 2012, TLC had 28 series averaging 1 million P2+ viewers or more, including four series that averaged 2 million P2+ viewers or more: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Breaking Amish, Long Island MEDIUM, and Sister Wives.