The Path To Here…

Genealogy flier

This morning while working on my research for a current project dealing with Dahomey (Benin), Sierra Leone, and Scotland, I am reminded that my first introduction to history came from the oral histories of my family.  But it also brings to mind that I was sometimes a reluctant participant to history.  Adults in the family swapped stories and their ramblings often interfered with my childhood desires to pop firecrackers or water ski at lake. I dozed off only to wake up and find the stories continued, much like the background noise of cicadas on a summer night.

In spite of my childhood boredom, these narratives shaped a space in me that has germinated into a constant curiosity of history.  I could not imagine then that these struggles to keep my childhood eyes open would result in my pursuit of a Ph.D. in transatlantic history.  Yet, here I am, two years into the program, applying some of the same methods to the study of early modern societies. In addition to teaching several sections of U.S. History, these early connections also led me instruct a community class on genealogy research while completing my Master’s thesis (see flyer image above).  Once a week for a few months I helped others develop tools that expanded their own family histories. I personally benefited from this exchange when it allowed me to recharged by history batteries and experience the vicarious thrill when others broke down genealogy “brick walls.”

It is funny the paths that lead to academia…

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