Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Collaborative Genealogy

For the past year, I have been collaborating with several DNA cousins with roots in North Carolina. We are 10 descendants of slaveholders and the people they enslaved who have come together via email and social media to try to solve mysteries and find lost branches of our family trees. We call ourselves the Torrence Cousins because we all have connections to that North Carolina family.

In April I met two of my Torrence cousins - Helen Mickens (left) and Judith Hughes (right) - at North Carolina's State Library and the State Archives in Raleigh. They were there for Tar Heel Discoveries, a weeklong workshop for genealogists. I dropped in for a day so I could meet them in person since they both live in the Midwest. 

I highly recommend the Tar Heels Discoveries workshop and plan to go back. The workshop includes a one-on-one consultation with professional genealogists and tours of the library and archives, including the vault where the state charter and other rare and priceless documents are stored.

I also highly recommend collaboration. For years genealogy was a solitary hobby for me. Now I recognize how important it is to get to know other descendants of my ancestors, and the relatives who are descendants of the people who enslaved them. If you find cousins who are open to this idea, embrace them, and get to work -- together. It has been a life-changing experience for me, and has enriched my understanding of the lives of my ancestors.