All posts by Laura Brown

About Laura Brown

Laura earned a B.A. in History from Boston University, where she focused her studies on 20th century American cultural and military history. Originally from Stockton, New Jersey, Laura completed internships with Historic Newton and Antiques Roadshow before joining the NEHGS staff.

Resources for World War I research

A woman working at National Shell Filling Factory Number 9 in Banbury, England, during World War I.
A woman working at National Shell Filling Factory Number 9 in Banbury, England, during World War I.

One of the things I enjoy most about family research is to go beyond locating ancestors’ names and the dates of birth and death, and find out as much as I can to develop a picture of their lives. I want to know where they lived, what they did for a living, what their hobbies were, etc. I also like to try to place my ancestors in a broader historical context.

Like many of you, I have connected ancestors to World War I. When approaching a topic as daunting and nuanced as the Great War, I figure that one can never know enough. Luckily, there are a wide variety of resources available. Here are some my favorites: Continue reading Resources for World War I research

Researching Mexican records for my grandfather

My family in the 1930 Mexico census
My family in the 1930 Mexico census. Courtesy of

To distract myself from the horrible winter weather that has been thrown at Boston recently, I spent some time trying to research the family of my paternal grandfather, Richard Archibald Brown,[i] in sunny Mexico. This line has been a brick wall. And like many genealogists, I can’t help but try again and again, hoping that this will be the time I finally break through. Continue reading Researching Mexican records for my grandfather

“Memory lane”

Uncle Bill Doylestown HS 1947The other day, I was discussing genealogy with a friend and she said to me, “So, genealogy is just one big walk down memory lane?” I thought about this, and while I think that genealogy might be more of a drive down the memory interstate highway, I could not get this idea out of my head. I began to think of how some of us like to mosey down memory lane. For some, this might involve looking through old emails or pulling out a memory box. For me, it means flipping through old yearbooks. Continue reading “Memory lane”

Family history in the kitchen

Laura Brown 1 for VBToday, as most of us here in the United States enter our kitchens to cook, prepare, or bake our contributions for Thanksgiving dinner, many of us will reach into our bookshelves and pull out the recipe for those tried-and-true dishes that our families request (or sometimes expect) us to bring to dinner. If your kitchen is anything like mine, these recipes are usually pretty easy to find – they’re the ones on the index cards that have batter and sauce splattered all over them, and in the cookbook with the broken binding that seems to automatically open to the same wrinkled page with ripped edges. Continue reading Family history in the kitchen

A code of ethics

Happ naturalization formDisclaimer: If you are a member of the Happ family of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, please read no further.

I think I’ve done something bad. I may never be invited to another Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll never be allowed to see my family again.

I think I just discovered that my family has ties to New York City. Continue reading A code of ethics

Like father, like son – like daughter?

Athlone Castle cropped
S.S. Athlone Castle, on which my grandfather was a deck hand in 1936. Courtesy of State Library of Queensland, John Oxley Library/Wikimedia Commons

Like many people in their early to mid-twenties, I am still struggling to figure out who I am. One day not too long ago, I was told that I was acting “just like my father.” Ah yes, the age-old phrase that was said to me when I was a child (and typically when I was misbehaving). This time, however, instead of shrugging off the comparison as I typically would, I decided to dig a bit deeper. If I act just like my father, then maybe I am destined to be like my father… Continue reading Like father, like son – like daughter?