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Ancestors unKnown: Interview with Dana Saxon


Ancestors unKnown: Interview with Dana Saxon

How interesting! I’ve worked with people who have run into that brick wall, and it’s so helpful to hear about how you confronted it. What did you find most difficult, and what were you able to in response?

Dana Saxon:
I’m interested in both sides of my family’s history, researching the family trees of both my mother and father. But unfortunately I didn’t start this research until several years after my father’s death. So although genealogy best practices would advise any researcher to begin with an oral history interview to gather as much information as possible from an elder, I couldn’t tap into my Dad’s memories to help me. Honestly, that challenge will be something I’ll always regret – wishing I had the opportunity to ask my father countless more questions.

Yes, I’ve also wished I had thought to ask more questions while elders in my family were with us.

Dana Saxon:
Fortunately, I was able to make headway by digging into my grandmother’s photo albums, much of which she made sure to label with names and dates. Also lucky for me, my mother remembered some things about my father’s family that I never knew (perhaps even more than my father would have remembered in some cases). So I was able to fill in a few of my research gaps with some pointed questions. Even without firsthand knowledge from my father, I’ve been able to document his family to the mid-19th century, as well as trace the family’s migration from Florida and South Carolina to Philadelphia, where both Dad and I were born.

Ancestors unKnown works with schools and non-profit community organizations. Is it possible for individuals to access or purchase any of the curriculum?

Dana Saxon:
At this time, we’re only providing curriculum licenses to schools and organizations that can facilitate the Untold Histories and Genealogy Research lessons for groups of students. With this approach, we’re seeking measurable academic and personal impact among participants.

What a great idea! So much curriculum that I see being used doesn’t go through a research process that examines its…

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