I hope you’ve been listening over the past few months to our Throwback Thursday series…episodes I’m curating from the archives for you to listen to again, or for the first time, if they are new to you.
This Throwback Thursday, there were so many reasons I decided to select this episode titled “Weaving our Ancestral Threads with Genealogist Nicka Smith.”
First, Nicka has had some incredible recent accomplishments that I would love for you to explore. One in particular, is the debut of her first short film entitled “A Dream Delivered: The Lost Letters of Hawkins Wilson” about one family’s story that Nicka explains is an exceptional example of why it’s important to thread the past to the present.
The second reason I decided to share this episode was because of a call I received today. It was from a woman who was a former student of my grandmother Molla, who found and heard my episode with my father, David Lieberman. This woman was searching for years to learn about her mentor who she lost touch with and I’ve been searching for years to find students who benefited from my grandmother’s teaching. Now, because of the power of podcasting and a reverence for threading the past to the present, we’ve found one another.
All of this feels especially poignant because it’s still within the first year of my father’s death. As I welcome you to listen to this episode, I’m sending special love out to all of us missing our loved ones and wishes that the wisdom from Nicka in this conversation, inspires us anew to weave our own threads from past to the present, and to use our loved one’s legacies as inspiration for living our lives to the fullest.
Resources Mentioned in Opening
A Dream Delivered: The Lost Letters of Hawkins Wilson details the life of Hawkins Wilson, a formerly enslaved man who utilized the Freedmen’s Bureau to try to reconnect with his family. Hawkins’ letters have been seen everywhere from the National Archives website to text books and more. The letters so clearly describe the destructiveness of enslavement while also showing the hopes the formerly enslaved had in repairing the havoc the slavery system caused their families.
Hawkins’ May 11, 1867 letter drafted at the Freedmen’s Bureau in Galveston, Texas – the site of the first ever Juneteenth – includes a detailed account of which specific slaveholders enslaved his family members and important details such as the locations where they were enslaved.
Those of us who do genealogy research know how incredible Hawkins’ account is, yet we also know that there are a lot of factors out of our control that determine whether or not we can find out more about him and his family despite the large amount of information he gave.
Did Hawkins and his family ever reunite? Do records that document his enslavement still exist? All of these questions, and more, are answered in the short film.
You can view the film at www.ancestry.com/BlackHistory
Full Episode Show Notes
Check out the full show notes from the original episode here: Ep 50: Weaving our Ancestral Threads with Genealogist Nicka Smith
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