Thursday, June 26, 2008

Family History and the Slave Trade

This past Tuesday evening, June 24th, I was flipping channels since most commercial television bores me to death and we only have "poor people's TV" aka "no cable." I stumbled upon what looked like a documentary being narrated by a very depressed sounding female voice.

I thought to myself, "Wow - this sounds like it isn't much fun," but continued to watch since it involved genealogy and family history. But as the film pulled me in, I realized - and appreciated - the tone with which Katrina Browne narrated this visual depiction of her family's history.

Traces of the Trade is more than just a documentary - I liken it more to a "family history project" - sort of what many of us genealogists and genea-bloggers do to make our own family history seem more alive and 3-dimensional. But Katrina and the other relatives depicted so artfully by the co-producer Juanita Brown don't shy away from a dark and dirty secret: their ancestors were involved with the slave trade for a long period of time in the 18th and 19th centuries and were responsible for transporting slaves from Ghana to the New World.

I strongly recommend that everyone - whether you are involved with family history - or not - take time to look up your local PBS listings for this amazing documentary.

The evidence of my family's involvement with the slave trade has been a topic that has fascinated me for years but I have really not put much effort into its research. Perhaps it is due to my fear of finding the same type of evidence that Katrina and her family uncovered. I can only hope that if and when I do find such evidence, that I can re-tell the story as eloquently as the Traces of The Trade team has done.


Kathryn Lake Hogan said...

T, Thanks for posting this. I read an article about Katrina's family in the spring issue of Ancestry magazine. The issue of slavery is very important to me and my family as my husband and children are descended from former slaves who escaped to Canada on the Underground Railroad.

Anonymous said...

Saw this back when the film was shown at Sundance and there was lots of press coverage of it. I mighta even blogged it. Yep. Looked it up. Glad to see your mention, and that the show is now airing. I'll have to request the beau to look out for it in his TiVo.