Category Archives: Genealogy

Godparents Day!

Godparents

Happy Godparent’s Day! In the US, Godparents Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of June. I was thrilled to hear that this holiday existed. My Godparents were substitute parents for me. My primary Godmother, Aunt Sybil, was my mother’s oldest sister. She was my ‘other mother’ and teacher. She taught me about spirituality and about my Caribbean heritage. I owe her my appreciation for gardening and Diaspora cooking, especially Chinese Trinidad, Guyana food. She was my mentor, spiritual, personal, professional, and financial advisor throughout my whole life. I mentioned ‘primary’ Godmother, as I actually had another set of Godparents! Those included a paternal Protestant uncle and a maternal Buddhist/Catholic aunt (in photo above)! Godparents were also called ‘sponsors’ among some of my multicultural kinfolks.

However, Godparents can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, you have the film ‘The Godfather’ where the ‘family’ is a group of dysfunctional people with vendettas. Many of today’s modern families don’t name Godparents for their children. Some Godmothers and Godfathers lavish their Godchildren with money and gifts for every birthday and holiday imagined! Some Godparents are always available to babysit their Godchild. Some Godchildren show no appreciation for this tradition.

Becoming a Godparent: Godparenting is about religious responsibilities and being a support to the parents. An important point here is that in some cultures, you have the right and duty to stand up to the parent if they are not being good parents! Usually Godparents are asked to participate in the Christening and Baptism of a child and sometimes an adult. There are religious rites and duties for being a Godparent and a Godchild! Many people choose Godparents for their children to honor a friendship. Some people choose for financial reasons. It’s up to you to decided whether you accept this honored role. No matter the reason, being a Godparent is all about being a positive role model to a child. It’s also up to you to decide if you will choose a Godparent for your child. If you do, how will you decide who will make a good Godparent for your child?

Being a Godchild: I always took my role as a Goddaughter serious. I believe the basic rules: Be there! Show up in every way you can! I called and visited my Godmother often throughout my whole life. I became her daughter and right-hand person as much as I could until she transitioned. I also had adopted Godmothers from among neighbors and friend’s parents, especially during my teen years and young adulthood! It’s important for Godchildren to understand that it’s a relationship. They should remember their Godparent’s birthday, Christmas and more.

As a genealogist, I found important family history in religious documents such as Baptisms, Christenings, and Bible records. (The above document is my brother Sidney’s Baptism record in the Episcopal Church. He was also Baptized in a Catholic Church, as mentioned in blog post below.)These religious ceremony documents also provide needed legal value too! Here’s a related excerpt from my past blog post: “Many mothers delay naming their children,” said an NYC official who requested anonymity. As a genealogist trying to prove a client’s identity, my first thought was to go to church—in this case, the Roman Catholic Church.” To read more, click here.

How do you honor your Godparents? How did/would you choose a Godmother or Godfather for your child?

Save

Finding Sojourner and Elizabeth

Finding Sojourner Truth’s former residence at 74 Canal Street in New York City’s Chinatown was a fun find. She was a domestic worker and attended churches on John, Duane, and Church streets. The noted feminist also worked at a women’s shelter on Bowery, according to NY Historical Society records. In honor of Women’s History month… Continue Reading



Holiday Reunion memories

Holiday reunions are coming. Are you ready for your crazy relatives? Back in the day, every weekend was a holiday reunion. The menu, script, and cast of characters were always set. There were always surprise guests and food items. Sometimes Dad’s Harlem-Southern and Mom’s Chinese West Indian folks would visit at the same time. But… Continue Reading



Juneteenth memories

Juneteenth is our first African American holiday. But it almost did not happen. The word Juneteenth is colloquial phrasing for an approximate June date when enslaved African Americans in Texas learned that they were free. June 19, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, also known in Texas as Emancipation Day. But like many black… Continue Reading



Quakers to host slavery talk

The local Quaker Peace Committee will host our next Coming to the Table (CTTT) meeting on Saturday, June 6 at their Friends House in Union Square area. As the Co-Leader with Julie Finch of CTTT NYC-Metro, I am pleased to extend an invitation to newcomers to learn more about our mission. Background: “Coming to the… Continue Reading



Flowers, parades, memories

Flowers decorated the graves of dead soldiers who fought in the Civil War. It was a beautiful, lovely tribute to those who paid the ultimate price. Our national holiday was initially called ‘Decoration Day,’ named for the local flowers that were placed at those Southern burial sites. Today, the holiday is known as Memorial Day.… Continue Reading



Slavery, genealogy meetings

Slavery, genealogy, race, family legacy, white privilege and healing will be among the central topics discussed at the Coming to the Table (CTTT)-New York City Metro Chapter meetings. As co-leader with Julie Finch of the CTTT-NYC Metro Chapter, I am extending an invitation to my friends and readers of my blog to attend our upcoming… Continue Reading



My Sheroes

My Sheroes, by Carrie Stewart, Guest writer (in honor of Women’s History Month) My sheroes are all part of the Civil Rights movement. I was fortunate as a white person to have a family that encouraged me to be involved and support Civil Rights activities. The movement was my American Studies thesis topic as a… Continue Reading



Wise, wonderful women quotes

By Monique Y. Wells, Guest Blogger (In honor of Women’s History Month 2015) We women are wise and wonderful! As Dr. Glenda Newell-Harris said during a recent interview in my Huffington Post UK piece Successful Women Entrepreneurs Give Back series: “Who better to uplift us than ourselves?” Here are ten quotes by wise and wonderful… Continue Reading