Working in the Special Collections research area can lead to its own set of frustrations and rewards. Sometimes when people contact us they have run up against a “brick wall” while researching their family history. They have exhausted all their known resources and have reached out to contact libraries and other organizations in the area where their ancestor lived, hoping for help finding more information. From time to time we are unable to help them. Even though we have checked every resource we have access to – newspapers, birth and death records, land records, local histories, city directories, family histories, census records, and more – we just cannot find any trace of the person in question. (As you might imagine this is really frustrating; it is amazing the number of people who just disappear off the face of the Earth.) Then there are times that all the pieces fall into place and we are able to find that missing bit of information that helps make the connection.
One such instance happened this spring. I was contacted by Kierra Benson, a UNT student, who needed help verifying a family legend. She said she was going to use it as the basis for a podcast. I was a little unsure about her request at first because family legends are a funny thing. Many times they are based on fact, but occasionally they are proved false, which may, or may not, cause more than a little consternation in a family. In her own words, here is a description of Kierra’s research into her family legend:
“I am currently a senior at the University of North Texas at Dallas in pursuit of a bachelors in Communication and Technology. This past semester, in one of my classes I was assigned to create a podcast on a subject that interested me. After considering a few other topics for my podcast, one question lingered in the back of my head for years. That question was based on a claim that my grandfather made about famous funk singer Sly Stone being related to our family. I had always had my doubts about my grandfather’s claim, so I decided to use this project as an opportunity to verify (or debunk) this claim once and for all. With the help of professional genealogist Laura Douglas and past accounts from my grandfather, I pieced together information about my family history and Sly Stone’s family history to see if there is a true connection.”
Was there a connection? Did her family legend prove true? You can listen to her podcast here.
Helping Kierra with her research was one of those rewarding experiences that makes working in Special Collections so much fun. Do you have a “brick wall” or a family legend you would like help with? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see what we can help you find.
Oh yeah, if you are in the mood for a little funk from a Dentonite, here’s some of the albums you can check out from the library:
Emily Fowler Central Library