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About Robyn N. Smith

I am an engineer by day, but my true passion lies in genealogy. I have been a researcher, writer, and lecturer for over twenty-five years.

Through Reclaiming Kin, I share tips on genealogy skill building for all genealogists, and on researching slavery and the enslaved.

Join my mailing list below to receive my posts and get a free PDF with some of my favorite tips!

(Media Note: If you quote a post, please credit me by name, Robyn N. Smith.)

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Editable Research Tables For Sale

I make extensive use of tables for organization, analysis and citation in my research, and they have proven very popular with genealogists. These require Microsoft Word and a Windows platform. The Genealogy Source Table Collection includes 10 blank, editable source tables for death certificates, city directories, obituaries and funeral programs. See more details in the flier here and they are available for purchase for $10 .

I also have a Slavery and Freedom Collection available for $20. There are 15 tables, blank and editable for you to populate, as well as samples of using each. For more details, see the flier here, and you can purchase them here.



Join my mailing list below to learn about upcoming webinars.

19 November 2023, 1-3:30 pm EST: Join me as I present my new and revamped lecture, "Researching Your Family in State Court Records." This webinar will illustrate how to navigate state court records effectively. The audience will learn through extensive examples what information court records hold about our ancestors and the communities where they lived. Examples will include how critical these records are for those researching the enslaved, and there will be a live demo after the webinar. Attendees will receive a link to re-watch this webinar for one month afterwards. All attendees will also receive a free copy of Robyn's PDF, "Beginner's Guide to Using Court Records," a $12 value. This event is $15 and there is an option to pay online or by check. CLICK HERE TO SAVE YOUR SEAT, LIMITED SEATS AVAILABLE!

20 August 2022, 1-3:30 pm [PAST EVENT], Eastern Standard Time: Join me for a two-hour lecture and workshop on Using Deed Records. The second hour is hands-on, and I want you to bring the deeds you've found along with your questions. I'll illustrate transcribing deeds, show you how to find your county deed records on FamilySearch, and you will receive my PDF Beginner's Guide to Using Deed Records, a $12 value! This event is $20. See flier here. CLICK HERE TO SAVE YOUR SEAT!

13 March 2022, 1-2:30pm [PAST EVENT], Eastern Standard Time: Can’t find some of your ancestors in the census? Mining the Census: Are You Finding Every Clue? is for you. Join me as I present this NEW webinar that covers why we miss our ancestors in these records and presents numerous strategies to assist in finding every clue in census records. This event is $12. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW! 

30 January 2022, [PAST EVENT], Eastern Standard Time: Join special guest genealogist Taneya Y. Koonce and I as we present our joint Zoom webinar, Organize Your Genealogy! Start your year off with tips and strategies that can help you in the new year & beyond. See flier for more details. This event is $25. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW!

26 September 2021 [PAST EVENT]: Acclaimed genealogist Melvin Collier and I will be presenting an all-new 2-hour lecture titled More Than Just Names: Incorporating Social and Community History Into Your Research from 1:00-3:30 EST (please note it is Eastern Standard Time). See flier for details; cost of this event is $25. Register now! Seating is limited.



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Researching African-American Families

"While African-American genealogical research in many ways is like all genealogical research, the era of slavery makes the task especially challenging. The difficulties include using records that provide no surnames, the constant sale and breakup of families, and the lack of identification of fathers.

For descendants, I would add the substantial emotional impact of seeing an ancestor's name attached to a dollar value, or being valued in a list with silverware and cattle. Slavery's reach is still with us, and part of the gift of doing African-American genealogy is recovering the stories of those caught in its grasp who could not in their own time leave their own witness."


Genealogy Through the Years

Maryland Genealogical Society Holiday Luncheon, December 2017-2
Washington FHC Annual Conference, May 2011
Baltimore Family History Conference, October 2017-2
International Black Genealogy Summit, September 2016-2
Carroll County Genealogical Society Dinner, June 2018
Baltimore Family History Conference, October 2017
Reginald Lewis Museum, September 2011-2.jpg
Maryland State Archives Family History Festival, October 2014-2
Central Maryland AAHGS Meeting, March 2013
Robyn, Vonda, Andrea and Glenn, NGS Conf., May 2014
Robyn and cousin Chris
Maryland Genealogical Society Holiday Luncheon, December 2017-1
Howard Comm. College, Advanced AA Gen Class, September 2011
AAHGS Annual Genealogy Conference, November 2008
Howard Comm. College Advanced AA Gen. Class, November 2012
Robyn, Aaron, Karen, Katherine and Michael, October 2014
Tim Pinnick and Robyn, October 2016
African-American Family History Conference, February 2015
African-American Genealogy Group Conference, October 2016
Central Maryland AAHGS, with Alice Harris, September 2015
Howard Comm. College, Advanced AA Gen. Class, September 2009
Reginald Lewis Museum, September 2011
Robyn and Aaron Dorsey, September 2016
Alice, Robyn and Lajoye, CM AAHGS, September 2017
Carole and Robyn, February 2016
Robyn and Cherie, October 2015
Robyn and Andrea, NGS Conference, May 2014

How to Cite These Posts

Robyn N. Smith, [insert post title], Reclaiming Kin ( accessed [insert date you read the post]), [insert the date the post was written].

My Locations and Surnames

Hardin, Chester and Lawrence Counties, TN
Holt, Barnes, Broyles, Harbour, Bradley, Springer and Fendricks
Lawrence County, AL
Suggs, Springer, Fendricks, Sherrod/Sherrill
Montgomery County, MD
Prather, Simpson
Somerset County, MD
Waters, Fountain, Curtis
Duval, Madison, Taylor Counties, FL
Neely, Smith, Harris, Garner
Robeson County, NC
Locklear, Dial, Lowery, Strickland

Favorite Family History Quotes

"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
-William Faulkner

"Call it a clan, call it a network, all it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one"
- Jane Howard

"Friends are God's apologies for relations."
-Hugh Kingsmill

"No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?"
-Elbert Hubbard

"Families are like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts."

"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you might as well make it dance!"

"Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city;)"
-George Burns

"Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl. No superior alternative has yet been found."
-Winston Churchill

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never ever introduce yourself to had life not done it for you."
-Kendall Hailey

"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."
-Thich Nhat Hanh

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