Vallee Graves in Panama

Report #1 on my 2011 genealogy research trip to Panama

Last month, in just a matter of days, I went from having no idea when my next trip to Panama would take place to having a ticket booked for a ten day trip in June. The main purpose of this trip was to do genealogical research. This and my next several postings will report on what I accomplished. Continue reading

A Mamá By Any Other Name

In previous posts (like here and here) I discussed the tricky tradition of using nicknames in my mother’s family. Well, here’s more on that thorn in the side of this genealogist.


When my mom and her siblings would talk to or about their mother they would often refer to her as Tere (short for her nickname, Teresa).  Their cousins also called their mothers by their (nick)names.   Weird that they didn’t just call their moms some version of “Mom,” right?  

Nonetheless, there was someone else that my mother, her siblings, and their cousins called Mamá: their grandmother, Catherine “Edelanive” Mondesi.  Though Catherine’s actual children were Julio (a.k.a. Papa Gil), Clemintina (a.k.a. Clemina), Fide (real name: Maria Sebastiana), Tere (real name: Maria Anastasia), and Isa (real name: Elizabeth Juana) it was Catherine’s grandchildren that knew her so affectionately as Mamá.  Continue reading

Reactions to PBS Docu-series Black in Latin America

In a Q & A piece about the PBS documentary “Black in Latin America” Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explains that it was more difficult to drum up interest and support in developing this series than he had encountered in previous partnerships with PBS. No matter what one’s personal evaluation of the quality of the series or opinions about the man who spearheaded it, I think we should be extremely grateful that the topic has received a bigger spotlight than it ever has before. 

Given my interest (nee obsession?) with the topic I’m humbly offering my own reactions to the series.  I want to be sure to display my gratitude for the execution of this project by highlighting what was done well as well as offering constructive criticism or just observations about other directions that could have been taken. Continue reading

Diaspora on My Mind

I started this post a couple of nights ago when I absolutely could not fall asleep. I think the blame was split between the great documentary (The Neo-African Americans) I had seen earlier that night and that blasted extra espresso shot I agreed to let the barista pour into my vanilla latte a couple hours before that.  I’m not sure how to divvy up ownership of the blame (fifty-fifty is too simple) but the result is that, for whatever reason, my brain was dancing to the drums of my favorite obsession, black identity and the African diaspora, when it should have been dreaming of the ancestors. A television show I had watched a few days before also showed up to the the meeting in my mind so I figured that maybe if I unloaded some of the things going through my head it’d let me get some zzzzz’s.  (And hey, it wouldn’t hurt to add a post to my poor, neglected blog.) In this post I’ll focus on the season premiere of Who Do You Think You Are? 

Continue reading

Dear 2011

Dear 2011,

I’m not going to dwell on all of the things I could’ve accomplished in 2010. Obviously there’s nothing productive that can come of that. Rather, let’s just focus on how you and I can work together over the next 12 months to make 2011 really count on the genealogical front. Continue reading

Hurricane Devastates Soufriere

An important part of my genealogical research involves learning about the places my ancestors came from by learning about their histories, cultural traditions, and contemporary social and political conditions.  As a start, I am posting the following “breaking news” regarding St. Lucia and Barbados.

Not only has a hurricane hit one of my maternal islands of origin, St. Lucia, it has apparently caused the most devastation in Soufriere, the part of the island we believe my great-grandmother once called home.  You can read about what is known of the damage here.

Another one of my islands, Barbados, sustained the most damage.  Even though they the Bajans will have to undergo their own recovery effort, they will also be offering aid to their neighbors that were affected – St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.