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Are You My Cousin?: A Great Read!

Are You My Cousin?

Discovering My Ancestors -- One Cousin at a Time

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

I tell the stories of my ancestors’ lives. Whether they lived 20 years ago or 200 years ago, they each have a story to tell. Some ancestors tell their stories willingly. Others must have their stories carefully teased from the records. Sometimes the stories are sad. Sometimes the stories are happy. Sometimes the stories are just funny. Regardless, my ancestors’ stories shaped their lives and the lives of those that followed. Come and share in the tales!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Great Read!

I love to read.

I come from a family who likes to read.

My great grandmother (Winnie Haley Carr) used to churn butter with one hand and hold a book in the other!  While I haven't churned butter while reading, I have stirred a pot.....


This summer I picked up a copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. (This book is the summer reading book for East Carolina University.)  It is an extraordinary story of a woman whose cells were taken during a medical procedure without her knowledge in 1951. These cells became known as the Hela cells and became the basis for many medical research advances including the polio vaccine, gene mapping and even cloning.

The science is fascinating. The issues of medical ethics, rascism and family dynamics gave me much to ponder.  Sometimes the reading was difficult.  Life for Henrietta and that of her family was never easy.

I think the most intriguing aspect of the book is that it appealed to me as a genealogist.  Rebecca Skloot used many of the same genealogical research techniques I as genealogist use in order to uncover the story of Henrietta and that of her family.  She interviewed experts in the medical field.  She interviewed members of Henrietta's family including her extended family.  She researched the time and place where Henrietta grew up. She visited the Lack home place in Clover, VA.

She was persistent.  Because of her persistence, Henrietta's story is known.

While not a "genealogy" book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  has a place in my genealogy library.

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