Jewish Khazars

Are Ashkenazi Jews descended from the Khazars? It’s a hot question. Many people, both Jews and non-Jews, have thought so, but nowadays it has become anti-Semitic to say it. I’m not exactly sure when it became taboo to question scientific research. At one time, many years ago, I thought Arthur Koestler made a slam-dunk case … Read more

Online trees

Are online trees worth it? I’m not so sure. I was a volunteer curator at Geni.com for many years but ultimately left because of the breathtaking incompetence of some of my fellow curators (as well as a pervasive homophobia). The strongest and most vocal users are often those peddling fantasy. It wouldn’t have to be … Read more

Genealogical Standards

Reflecting on genealogical standards. This is an area that could use a lot of work, maybe get some modernization going. I’m not optimistic. Seems like genealogists as a whole are not a self-reflective bunch. The rules are the rules and we’ll burn you as a heretic if you don’t agree. I’m not sure entering place … Read more

Land Back: Settler FAQ

A lot of people are saying #LandBack. The idea seems to be settlers should give back the land their ancestors stole. I hear about it more from Canadians than Americans, but the idea is circulating in both countries. I’m listening, politely I hope, but I’m not really sure about what I’m hearing. How far do … Read more

Wyoming Oysters

When we have turkey for a holiday meal we always have Grandma’s Oyster Dressing. We assume it was her mother’s recipe. This tradition gets me laughing every Thanksgiving. How in the world, I wonder, did a family of Wyoming ranchers end up making oysters a key ingredient of our holidays? Was great grandpa Luce so … Read more

Fun with Land Acknowledgments

Land acknowledgments play a serious role in modern American and Canadian society, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with them. While people are chuckling they can also be opening to new and perhaps uncomfortable ideas. None better than Walking Eagle News. I follow them on Twitter so I don’t miss the good stuff. … Read more

Salt Lake City Land Acknowledgment

Coming down off the fun of celebrating Utah’s Pioneer Day #PieAndBeerDay #BiAndQueerDay #CincoDeMomo in a city that sees Mormons as strange and exotic. #SexCultCommunists I went looking for Salt Lake City’s land acknowledgment. My question was whether it would be just the Shoshone, or whether it would include the Utes, Paiutes, and Goshutes. Surprise (or … Read more

Boundaries of Texas

The last week or so I’ve been playing with the historic geography of my mother’s family. I’m not sure it counts as either history or genealogy but it’s fun in the way it personalizes history for me. My mother was born in Rock Springs, Wyoming, which lies in what used to be Mexican Territory. And … Read more

Tri-Territory Marker

A few days ago I wrote about the Red Desert, where my mother’s family is from. There’s a monument there near Farson to mark the place where the Louisiana Purchase, Oregon Territory, and Mexican Territory came together. When I was in my teens I calculated the old Swanstrom place was on the edge of the … Read more